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GET AWAY DAIE!! 




MONDAY 



9 a.m. 
lOa.m.: 

1 2 noon: 



TALKING HLADS 

hv Muhiul RolkuiiSaillrtln 



p. 2 



PROCLSSED 
WORLD 25 

Summer/Fall 1990 

ISSN 0735-9381 

41 Sutter St. #1829 

San Francisco, CA 94 1 04 

USA 

MENU 



OF WEEK'S ACTIVITIES 



WEDNESDAY 



BILLBOARD UBLRATION 
FRONT MANUAL 

BLF, p. 23 

TO WORK 2 HOURS A DAY 

u'vu'w hy Friig, p. 44 




TUESDAY 

9 a.m.: VIOLENCE PROCESSING 
Fighting Words and 

South Africa Irav.llmlby 

Willintti Hrummrr, p. 10 

1 2 noon: |UST TWO PRECIOUS 

WEEKS?!! analyse hy Frimituo 

Morales, p. 30 

2 p.m.: REFLECTIONS OF AN 

IMMIGRANT hy Malgorzala G 

p. 35 




9 a.m.: THE HOT ONE 

,7,uM-r,rit; thilin, hy CJuu Bufe. p. 28 

1 a.m.: JOURNEY TO THE LAND 

OF "F" l"/r a/ Irairlin^loil 
hjauhAte//-0p.8 



FRIDAY 



10 a.m.: THE FIRST-HAND LOOK 
and other perceptual 

problems . . . tale of IravMng 

toilhyChtis Caihum. p. 18 

I p.m.: THE RIGHT TO BE LAZY 

review hy Primilivo Morales, p. 36 





THURSDAY 

9:30 a.m.: SIX KINDS OF DARKNESS 

excerpted Jn lion by John 
Shirley, p. 47 

1 1 a.m.: THE OCCULT REVIVAL 

futiorihy Don U'ehh, p. 40 



SAT/SUN 

I I a.m.: MICROFICTIONS 

hy Peter Bales, p. 27 

I 2 noon: POETRY featuring Bames, 

Corn/or,/. DelVill, Hershey, King 
iM.tJiusl. SoUap. 32,38-9 

afternoon: FRONT COVER 

hyJHSaan.on 

BACK COVER 

hy Igor Cxniiwski 



Processed World is a project of the Bay Area 
Center for Art &. Technology, a California 
non-profit, tax-exempt organization. BACAT 
can be written to at 1 095 Market Street. 
Suite 109. San Francisco. CA 94103. or 
phoned at (4 I 5) 626-2979, or faxed at (4 I 5) 
626-2685. 

Indexed in Alternate Press Index. 



TOUR OPERATORS, PW #25: Angela Socage. 
Michael Botkin. Primitivo Morales. Frog, Clerk 
Kent, Green Fuschia, Chris Carlsson, Glenn 
Caley Bachmann, Club Med-O, )R Swanson, 
Chaz Bufe, D.S. Black, BeanHead. Emily Post- 
It and others 

FELLOW TRAVELERS: |ay Stone, Margot 
Pepper, Dennis Hayes, Igor Gasowski, 
Malgorzata G., Poly Polaroid, Jesse D., Adam 
Cornford. R.L. Tripp, |C |r. &. a host of others. 



This "tour" reflects the ideas and fantasies 
of the specific authors and artists, and 
doesn't necessarily represent other contri- 
butors, editors, or BACAT. 

PW is collectively produced &. edited: only 
the printer gets paid. 



Talking Heads 




In East Germany a crowd uns ol iliou- 
sands strong besieged and ultimately 
stormed and trashed the headquarters of the 
Stasi secret police, destroying all ot the 
records. In the USA, the former head of our 
secret police, George Bush, was elected 
president. 

While peace threatens to break out in the 
rest of the world, the administration casts 
about anxiously for new enemies in new 
wars. With the tragic loss of the "Evil 
Empire," they must look for new bogies 
closer to home. Glued to their dramatiza- 
tions and "real life" cop shows, the viewing 
public waits for the criminals to be pointed 
out. 

So the administration has declared War 
on Desire. Sex and Drugs are the current 
targets, given the attractive multiple man- 
date this War gives to intervene in Latin 
America, harass minorities, and to monitor 
the bloodstreams and sex lives of federal 
workers and citizens. But the targeted drugs 
and sex are less significant than the battle- 



lickL inliii ination- 

Pleasure and its pursuit have always been 
viewed by repressive regimes as inherently 
radicalizing. If they can define all drug use 
and sex as "criminal" and dangerous to 
society, then they can pass off their need to 
monitor our bloodstreams and thought- 
patterns as benevolent protection instead of 
blatant repression. 

The eighties saw a dramatic ideological 
reaction to the radicalism of the sixties and 
even the lukewarm liberalism of the seven- 
ties. It culminated with the implosion of 
communism which has swept away any 
lingering impact of the traditional (and 
increasingly irrelevant) left. 

The War on Desire will be complicated by 
technological advances, but it is hard to say 
who will benefit most from them. Will 
advances in birth control techniques, like 
RU 486, empower women or make it easier 
to control them? Will the expansion of the 
information industry benefit the fringe — 
hackers looting government files — or the 



THE VELVEETA REVOLUTION 

Ingredients: partially hydrogenated press releases, subliminal manipulation. Iiposuctional truth-in- 

madvertising. procrustean linens and bed 

accessories, cellulite screams of a hostage 

command economy, social ferment (hops, yeast. 

malt, barley, potatoes, caffeine), candle-lit 

graffiti, barebacked resistance, dissonant diver- 

,' gence. nonvolatile cocktails, sure-footed street 

savvy, telegenic crowds, and broad backdrops 
for broadcast by sympathetic media, backed by 
^ ^ smooth-talkin' Washingtoon jingo blues. 

^ ^ * by Protract &. Fumble 






Bureaucracy? 

In many ways the onset of "personzil" 
computing has undermined the official con- 
trol of information. Hackers waltz through 
the files of the governments and the corpo- 
rations. Computer bulletin boards and 
modems have created information networks 
completely outside officialdom. Recent dra- 
conian government action against hackers 
shows how seriously they take the threat. 

Social control has always been primarily 
practiced by propaganda. Who cares what a 
few thousand personal computeroids think if 
the millions believe what survey-certified 
"creditable" anchor-persons tell them is 
true? But as the mass media drifts off further 
and further in republican, religious, corpo- 
rate fairyland, increasing numbers of people 
will fine! themselves experiencing informa- 
tion dualism. What we personally experi- 
ence and learn from our friends and ac- 
quaintances simply doesn't jibe with the 
irrelevant but apparently unambiguous 
truths pandered by the Mass Media. 

This period, when Official Reality be- 
comes impossible for most people to believe, 
is historically an uncomfortable one for 
repressive regimes. In the "Communist" 
bloc they have fallen. In China and the USA 
they are increasingly resorting to crude force 
and censorship. 

The War on Sex justifies the crusade 
against abortion rights and the refusal to 
teach sex education to prevent AIDS. The 
War on Drugs justifies aircraft carriers off 
the coast of Colombia, "military advisors" 
(remember them?) in Peru, and quasi- 
military occupation of communities of color 
in the USA. And both justify the "need" for 
the administration to keep lists, limit the 
rights of others, and keep its own business 
strictly secret. 

Bush's history in "intelligence" was a 
non-issue in his election campaign, but his 
presidential behavior has been more than a 
touch paranoid. He's considered a "secret" 



Page 2 



Processed World #25 



president, and is known not to be above 
lying to maintain secrecy, even for just an 
extra day. He excels at doublespeak, for 
example labeling himself "the environmental 
president." On the basis of general style 
alone it's easy to see Bush as the likely 
mastermind of the Iran-Contra scam, most 
of all in the way he avoided the slightest 
taint of connection with it despite his official 
role. 

While Reagan's "spin doctors" had their 
hands full just cleaning up his bloopers — as 
testified to by his plummeting reputation 
since he became dependent upon the servic- 
es of a single commercial publicist— Bush is 
developing a machine of staggering propor- 
tions. 

In addition to refusing to let anyone know 
about what it's doing, the administration is 
showing insatiable curiosity about the do- 
ings of the rest of us. The Wars "require" the 
federal apparatus to encroach on the elusive 
"right to privacy" more than at any time 
since the McCarthy era. 

Pregnant teens, if they want an abortion, 
are increasingly being forced to get the 
permission of their biological parents. A 
host of legal and medical agencies insist they 
have the right to test people for AIDS — if 
necessary against their will, and perhaps to 
quarantine them as well. The federal gov- 
ernment is insisting that all of its workers 
need to be drug tested and the courts, after 
ten years of Reaganistic packing, are back- 
ing them up. 

And the mainstream media slavishly 
broadcasts the straight party-line, which 
even the party newspapers in ex-communist 
Europe aren't doing any more! The result is 
a view of the world so heavily processed that 
it bears little meaningful relationship to 
reality. 

San Franciscans had an interesting taste 
of the fun-house mirror effect of the media 
in the aftermath of the Big Earthquake last 
October. The actual earthquake, although it 
caused billions of dollars in damage (mostly 
knocking down structures that probably 
wouldn't make it through the next really big 
one anyway), was really not very deadly. 
But the media version, which was what the 
world outside San Francisco experienced as 
the 'Quake, was a holocaust of raging fire, 
collapsing bridges, and "hundreds" of com- 
muters crushed to death in the cars. 

Initially, many San Franciscans believed 
this version, which they heard on transistor 
radios or by long-distance phone calls from 
horrified relatives watching dramatic foot- 
age on the evening news. For several days 
most people believed that "hundreds" had 
died, as the embarrassed media hesitated to 
reveal how badly they'd exaggerated the 
death toll in their lust for blood and ratings. 
Most people who experienced the actual 
earthquake now consider the national me- 
dia's coverage of it a sham, but it remains 
the official version, enshrined in glossy 
magazine photos. The truth is so easily 
distorted just to produce fiashy copy that it 



is frightening to contemplate what deliber- 
ate propaganda is producing right now. 

Processing is power. The revolution that 
tumbled the Marcos regime in the Philip- 
pines began when the 20 keypunchers of the 
national election results refused to fudge the 
counts. The ability of a regime to impose its 
version of reality is the cause, and the 
measure of its power. 

China's government insists that there was 
no massacre in Tianamen Square. The fact 
that it can even say this testifies to its 
continued grasp on power— just as the open 
disbelief of this lie by the entire world, 
including most of the people of China, 
testifies to the weakness of that grasp. 

In the USA— after China the last bastion 
of conservatism in the world — the war is 
heating up. Will the powers that be main- 
tain their monopoly of processing, and keep 
the complacent masses quiet? Or will the 
facade rip as the gap between the blissfully 
ignorant haves and the increasingly misera- 
ble have-nots grows? The Bush administra- 
tion is counting on a preemptive strike at 
desire, at sex and drugs, those venerable 



nV 



*#t 



corrosives to Authority. 

But the dictators of China may yet be 
felled by the Fax. Here they can censor 
Robert Mapplethorpe's sadomasochistic 
images in (Cincinnati, or the raunchy lyrics 
of 2 Live Crew in Florida and Texas, but the 
net result is predictably to promote rather 
than suppress the disturbing contents. 

The nineties: TV will get more boring, 
and real life will get more interesting. 

— Michael Botkin & the collective 

In this issue PW flees the work-a-day 
world for greener pastures; we've gone on 
vacation! For some of us this has been 
literally true — masquerading as the Anti- 
Economy League several of our ciew invad- 
ed Central & Eastern Europe — while for 
others the vacation has been a theoretical 
concept. We have accordingly dug into our 
singular & collective pasts to cast light on 
"anti-work." 

Med-O reflects on a journey through 
Africa in "The Land of F," while William 
Brummer focuses on South Africa and its 
turbulent course in "Violence Processing." 
Chris Carlsson revisits Brazil (see also his 



hsr X 



.V 



GENERAL SUBVERSIVE WARNING: Life 
in the West promotes severe numbness, passivity, 
banal culture, and brutal extremes of wealtti and 
poverty. Greater personal liberty is accompanied by 
growing disinclination to act as a free tiuman being. 



nonpo6y| Beer! 



("Test the West") 



Au€hinder''BRD"erhaltrich. 



Processed World #25 



Page} 



letter in issue #24) to explore other dimen- 
sions ol the tourist and the loured, (.leini 
B.'s letters from Central Europe, nwd ,i 
Polish woman's reflections on life in the U.S. 
help round our view of mobility and culture. 

Primitivo Morales takes a more abstract 
view of leisure time in his essay "Just Two 
Precious Weeks?!!" and two related pieces 
on tourism and mass entertainment. The 
two bfjok reviews cover old — but not dated 
— books that explore the possibilities of 
having more leisure time. Frog reviews a 
French publication from the 70s, To Work 
Two Hours A Day, which contains a trench- 
ant analysis on work and the possibilities for 
its reduction. In his review of The Right to he 
Lazy, Primitivo shows that such ideas are 
certainly not unique to this century. 

And lest you think we're all theory, we 
welcome the Billboard Liljeration Front 
back. If you're looking for a few hints about 
what to do this summer (or winter) you 
might consider their "Manual" for billboard 
alteration. One of our friends, Art Tinnitus, 
has provided an accompanying essay on the 
prankster in modern society, and two uni- 
dentified conspirators tell their tales ot 
urban propaganda. 

Christopher Barnes' "This is My Lile, 
Jonathan David" extends the exploration to 
the factory, while Adam Quest examines 
what would happen "If the Weather Chan- 
nel Went Off the Air." The excellent poetry 
section includes John Soldo, Jim DeWitt, 
Janice King, Adam Cornford, Christopher 
Hershey and Richard Wilinarth, fosiah Led 
takes us on a whirlwind tour of an exclusi\ c 
club. 

Our sense of (gallows) humor is untar- 
nished, as Chaz Bufe's killer story, "The Hot 
One," vividly shows. Don Webb's "Ociult 
Revival" reports on the rise of The Damna- 
tion Ariny in the Bowery. Peter Bales' 
"Micro Fictions" shed a stroboscopic light on 
modern life. We round out the issue with an 
excerpt from John Shirley's excellent i y- 
ber-punk trilogy, A Song Called Youth. 

We apologize for not including the results 
of the art survey (see issue #24), but we got 
carried away with other material, and we 
had a number of interesting pieces arrive at 
the last moment {Here And Now from 
Scotland; the Institute for the Study of 
Neo-ism in Koln, Germany, etc.). 

We'll be back before year's end (| allow- 
ing) with another issue. It will be bat k to 
work as we focus on non-profits, "hip 
capitalism" and other progressive aberra- 
tions. We had to leave a lot of good material 
on the shelf— we've got a running start on 
both material and money. Won't you join 



We urgently solicit your writing, jour art, 
your participation in our collective process(ed 
world). 

Processed World, 41 Sutter St. #1829, San 
Francisco, CA 94104. Phone: (415) 
626-2979. Fax: (415) 626-2685. 




HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS! 

The following is an open tetter from a 15 
year old high school student in Lexington, 
KY. to her fellow students. Its public 
distribution was her last school activity. 
We thought it heartening if somewhat 
paranoid; it doesn't mean they're not out 
to get you. 

"Do you know what the fascists are 
doing to our brain cells?" 

If you read the tabloids, you are probably 
aware that the CIA is one of our leading 
drug importers, and that the government 
has been known to implant narcotics in 
major areas. It may come as a surprise, 
however, to learn that this is only the tip of 
the iceberg. Many more insidious menac- 
es, seemingly harmless, have been placed 
in our society by high-ranking Republican 
officials, including government leaders and 
even the president of the United States! 

One of these menaces is modern Top 
40. Such music has proven to destroy brain 
cells and deaden emotions. Children of 
Republican leaders pressure their friends 
into buying recordings of mindless dance 
music and synthesized pop. The Republi- 
cans and their children popularize the 
music, thus affecting millions of unsu- 
specting people. 

Television is another way to destroy 
brain cells. The government promotes TV 
programs that discourage thinking. Some- 
times subliminal messages are put in ad- 
vertisements. Because of the fascists, 
television has become extremely prevalent 
and influential. 

The most subtle danger is compulsory 
public education. Although it seemingly is 
used to teach people and encourage think- 
ing, it in fact does the opposite. It forces 
students to conform rather than think for 
themselves and live unconventionally. 
Public education also emphasizes memo- 
rizing and regurgitating information. The 
atmosphere in schools is not conducive to 
free thinking. 

The fascists are doing this because they 
want to destroy people's thinking ability 



while the people are young They intend to 
reinforce their own views and spread 
conservatism. Once this is accomplished, 
they will be able to slowly implement 
controls on people, who will not realize 
what is happening until we have a totali- 
tarian nation. 

This plot has been remarkably successful 
in the '70s, '80s, and early '90s. Although 
TV and compulsory education existed 
previously, the conservatives have recently 
intensified their efforts. George Bush has 
already begun the second stage of subtle 
restrictions of freedom I 

To counteract this situation, we must 
first be aware of it. We must not succumb 
to the brain-numbing effects of this evil 
conspiracy. We must resist restrictions of 
freedom and infringements upon rights, as 
well as the dangers that have been im- 
planted in our society. It is necessary to 
encourage alternative lifestyles. The only 
way to stop this abomination is to think, 
feel, and rebel. It is up to us. 

— Rozebud 

Hi! I'm from the Senseless Bureau! 




Page 4 



Processed World #25 



Dear People, 

I was absolutely delighted with the 
choice and good taste of your presentation 
of Bert Meyers' poetry [in issue 241. I 
realized that if my husband had seen such 
a magazine in his life-time, he would have 
chosen to submit poems to it and would 
have been proud to be published in it. 
Although he was a marvelous teacher of 
pnaetry and a number of his students have 
since distinguished themselves as poets, 
he found academia to be an unreal and 
uncomfortable milieu and would have 
much preferred remaining a craftsman in 
wood — a picture-framer and gilder — if 
new materials and sprays had not been too 
hazardous to his health. He respected the 
experience of work but bemoaned the 
straight jacket in which society kept the 
worker, snuffing out all his joy spontaneity 
and creativity. In his work as a poet: 
"... he still dreamed of a style / so clear it 
could wash a face, / or make a dry mouth 
sing." Not an ideal shared by most of his 
peers in the world of poetry: "But they 
laughed, having found / themselves more 
astonishing. / They would drive their 
minds, / prismatic, strange, each wrapped 
/ in his own ecstatic wires, / over a cliff for 
language, / while he remained to raise / a 
few birds from a blank page." 

Odette Meyers. Berkeley, CA. 



Dear Processed World: 

I started a new job, night shift word 
processing at a law firm, and to my 
surprise found an excerpt from Processed 
World up on the company refrigerator after 
I had been there a few days. It was the 
short article on credit card scamming that 
had been reproduced in the Utne Reader 
[from PW 23]. A handwritten note was 
attached to it: "This person has intelli- 
gence but no honesty, courage but no 
honor." Obviously the work of a lawyer. 

Well, they say even fleas have fleas. This 
law firm is in the honorable and honest (if 
not courageous) occupation of represent- 
ing insurance companies. 

Many people don't realize that insurance 
companies have in many ways replaced 
banks as the ultimate parasites in our 
system. They sell fear, though they try to 
make it appear they are selling safety. They 
have accumulated immense amounts of 
capital over the ages, capital with which 
they now own a controlling interest in most 
major banks and industries. They would be 
highly profitable even if they did not make 
a profit on selling insurance policies, simply 
by their return on investments. They pro- 
duce absolutely nothing of value. 

In many cases we are compelled to buy 
their products. For instance, in California 
automobile owners must buy insurance 
according to state law, and banks require 
homeowners or anyone else who takes out 
a loan to buy various forms of insurance. 



To add further injury to slavery, insur- 
ance companies do not like to pay off on 
their policies. They have two ways to do 
this: the most common one is to raise 
rates if they have to make a payoff, for 
instance when you have an auto accident. 
The second is to simply refuse to pay, 
which then often results in a court battle. 

That is the kind of carrion this law firm 
lives off. Instead of simply paying a worker 
or other victim compensation for an injury. 
State Farm, Aetna, Prudential or whoever 
pays lawyers $150-$200 an hour to try to 
prove that the victim is faking pain or 
caused the accident on purpose in order to 
collect on the insurance. 

It's amazing how much time the lawyers 
can waste on the cases, but then working 
at $200 per hour is hard to resist. Even if 
the victim wins, there is the additional 
taxation of having to pay the victim's 
lawyer about 1 /3 of the winnings. 

Of course, from the lawyer's point of 
view they are hard working, honest, intelli- 
gent, productive people. Not like the 
person who is living on credit. 

B.M. San Diego, CA. 




To be honest, I've pretty much lucked 
out in the job market. Even the shitty 
restaurant jobs have been entertaining or 
mercifully brief. But like a middle-class 
revolutionary who's got no qualms about 
leading uprisings in the name of the 
proletariat, I'll go on writing about corpo- 
rate scams even though they don't affect 
me. 

Speaking of corporate scams, here is my 
version of an employee counseling bro- 
chure. The Employee Assistance Program 
promotes "gatekeeper" plans to monitor 
employee recovery from drug addiction, 
alcoholism, and "emotional trauma." 
Sure, it's better than being fired, but now 
you're gonna help the company milk the 
insurance company for treatment of a 
"disease" (Pause for a moment to weep 
copiously). It's written in a corporate 
"voice," that of a Dutch uncle who "really 
knows the lingo." The pictures and 
questions are genuine; the answers are 
mine. 

Anyway, here's my $10 for the next 4 
issues. If you want, you can print the 
brochure. 

Rev. Carl X ( The Black Humor Man) 

People's Free Democratic World Mini- 
stries, Inc. 

from the Employee Resistance Program: 

WhatisanERP? 

The Employee Resistance Program is a 
support "network" of disgruntled employ- 
ees like yourself. The ERP provides an 
outlet for the frustrations of everyday 
working life which, if allowed to build up, 
can break one's spirit or even trigger a 
psychotic episode. 






Dear Processed World, 

This is great! I never knew there was a 
magazine for pissed-off workers until I saw 
your listing in the Whole Earth Signals 
Catalogue. 

Urine tests, company propaganda, and 
overall degradation are only the tip of the 
iceberg of frozen concentrated corporate 
stupidity. It's rotten for everybody below 
the executive level (Well, stop the press- 
es!). Let's look at the choices. White 
collar? Forget it. A tie ain't nothin' but a 
leash. Anybody can pick up the other end. 
Blue collar? It's worse. Suck up to the 
manager AND the union boss. Pink collar? 
Lucky you! Every customer is your boss, 
including the one without a receipt, who 
wants a refund NOW, godammit! 







How does the ERP work? 

It begins spontaneously, when one em- 
ployee has had his or her fill of the 
everyday "bullshit" he or she must submit 
to just to stay alive. First come petty acts 
of sabotage and theft of company resourc- 
es and time (for example, this brochure 
was created at the workplace, on company 
time), and from there it escalates. Workers 
are encouraged to add personal touches to 
the ERP. Creativity is key. Many workers. 



Processed World #25 



Page 5 



even without coordinating activities, can 
wreak major havoc, from which the com- 
pany may never recover. Methods vary 
from one employee to the next, so no 
discernable pattern emerges to tip off 
corporate troubleshooters. This system is 
virtually foolproof. 

Why is a program like this needed? 

The ERP is needed to help victimized 
employees pass back to the employer the 
high psychic costs of enduring daily the 
organized degradation that is work. Cor- 
poration that fail to recognize this suffer 
from terminal rot and are destroyed by the 
ERP, out of mercy. Thus, the ERP benefits 
employee and employer alike. 

Provided by the Democratic Free Peo- 
ple's Artists and Writers Collective of 
Saturday the 14th, Inc., © 1989. All Game 
Preserved. 



Processed World 

Enclosed is my check for $24.00 to 
renew my two year subscription to Pro- 
cessed World. 

I am a long time reader, and have with 
interest and amazement watched the mag- 
azine's content stay at a high level of 
achievement. Your writing is "spotty ec- 
lectic" but your values come through 
clearly. 

I read PW when it arrives, it stays on the 
table with other current "to read" stuff for 
a couple of weeks before it goes into 
storage. I read and look over PW cover to 
cover. 



I read many magazines and publications, 
even Vanity Fair and The New England 
Journal of Medicine. However, 

I don't own a television. 

I don't own a microwave oven. 

I don't own a dish washing 
machine. 

I don't own a clothes washer. 

I don't own a clothes dryer. 

I don't own a garbage dispenser. 

I don't own a VCR. 

I don't own a doorbell. 

I don't have electric heat. 

I don't have gas heat. 

I don't have a garage. 

I don't owe for a car. 

I don't have life insurance. 

I own the farm. 

I live in the past. 
The processed world is where and what 
most of us choose to be. Out of despera- 
tion. Out of choice. We choose to do what 
we do. We do what we are told to do. We 
stay caught in the web of employment, are 
hirelings. We have vacant jobs and are 
watching our lives become more vacant. 
We don't want to have vacant lives. We 
buy and feed the things we use. We feed 
upon ourselves and feed those around us. 
We feed upon each other. A rather severe 
image; primordial, decayed fungi rotting, 
deliquescing, oozing smarmy melodies of 
contentment and disdain. The fulsome 
blues. 

Extreme fixes come to the forefront: A 
platform of objectivity; 1) legalize all drugs 
2) outlaw television 



When you are in the midst of a national 
problem, the closeness of it covers and 
clouds the way in which we can look at it. 
Looking back we see the way in which the 
selling and controlling of the television 
technology dominated us; the manner, 
style and ways in which we lived. We 
became dependent upon it. We learned 
from it. We set our standards against it. 
The creation of a national consensus. We 
understood concepts via the national 
information source, were sold the way in 
which it is. What everyone else is thinking. 
We waited for and received the results. 
Holding in sway many people, day after 
day. Daily thousands pulled away, while 
thousands more joined. 

Your magazine still makes me think, 
laugh, I never get outraged. You have yet 
to offend me, you can't. Now, what you 
write about, in other words, the facts of 
life, that is what offends me. 

Your graphics, cartoons, visual state- 
ments, imagery, and all the photos, cap- 
tions, and drawings is a real collective, a 
visually stimulating mish mash. My favorite 
part of the magazine. I would love to see 
the graphics that you would not print. You 
must have some doozies. Funny. 

Billboard Liberation Front. If we only 
knew how. 

I can't think of much more to tell you. I 
cannot stand a reader pre-coded response 
survey because I never know how to 
condense and rationalize a canned re- 
sponse. I want to say more. 

T.A., Oregon 



tscmvTs 

FKOA\ 
EUROPE 



Mosel River region, W. Germany 8-10-89 

Before I left San Francisco last month, 
several people were asking me, "Why are 
you going to Europe in the fall?" as if I'm 
crazy or something. I'd just tell them that it 
feels like the right time to go, or else 
mention how I wish to avoid the onslaught 
of American tourists, though being near a 
U.S. Air Force base is annoying as hell 
when those planes roar overhead about 
once every hour. 

Autumn is a wonderful time to be 
here — the many trees are turning color, 
and grape picking season is in full swing. 
Yesterday I was walking in the town and an 
older man invited me inside his ancient 
wine cellar and siphoned me off a glass. It 
was about the best tasting stuff I'd ever 
had, and even the fact that we could barely 
speak a word to each other didn't take 
away from its magic. 




W. Berlin 14-11-89 

I'm in Berlin, and everything in the 
carnival-like atmosphere by the Wall seems 
to confirm that heady sense of being right 
in the center of the universe. So many 
bright lights and television cameras; I 
wonder are they just following a story, or 
are they helping to create it just by being 
here? 

18-11-89 

I finally made it to the other side of the 
Wall yesterday. I'd planned to get there 
sometime in the afternoon, but the line-up 
at Checkpoint Charlie was so thick that it 
was dark before I actually got into the city. 
Wandered around searching for a suitable 
cafe in and around what's purported to be 
the East Bloc's most fashionable shopping 
district. I was curious to see if there was 



anything resembling the circus atmosphere 
on the west side of the Brandenburg Gate, 
but the contrast could not be more stark 
— the whole place cordoned off by police, 
and pervaded by a tense, ghostly quiet 
with only a few scattered onlookers. I 
wandered the streets, thinking how un- 
usually quiet it was for a Friday night, when 
I suddenly encountered a large demonstra- 
tion. I joined the crowd, and though I 
understood little of the words, I liked one 
particular banner picturing a can of Coca- 
Cola, asking, "Is This All?" The timing was 
particularly apt, for many East German 
aLCtivists are already beginning to fear that 
their revolutionary movement is being 
diluted by the appeal of consumer items 
from the west. 

As the rally ended, I was invited to a 
party by some folks who told me it was the 



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Processed World #25 




DDR's first-ever big student demonstration 
where students had gathered from ail over 
the country. Some of them had come all 
the way from Rostock to be here. The 
party was very joyous and simple; sort of 
like an urban barn dance. I feel a kinship 
and respect for the East Germans who 
choose to stay rather than flee. At least 3 
different people offered me a place to stay, 
but alas, my day visa required me to be 
back in West Berlin by midnight. 

Prague 26-11-89 

I rolled into Prague yesterday evening; 
alone with a language that offered me no 
clues. On the platform, while wondering 
how to get situated, I saw a pair with big 
backpacks speaking what sounded like 
English! They were a couple of Australians 
looking just as confused as I felt, so we 
teamed up and found accommodations 
together. 

Jubilant pandemonium has surrounded 
us from the moment the subway sped us to 
Wenceslas Square. Every subway wall, 
and many a store window is practically 
wallpapered with typewritten manifestos, 
petitions, homemade posters and political 
cartoons, stickers, tricolor flags; and such 
a profusion of candles and flowers that 
practically every corner is a shrine. It's hard 
to believe we're in a subway station. I wish 
I could understand Czech! Most of the 
manifestos are dated, and though I can't 
read them there's still this obvious sense 
that things are moving so fast that if 
something is more that 2 days old it's 
pretty much ancient history. This is the 
spontaneous free press, and a plethora of 
posters are announcing tomorrow's Gen- 
eral Strike (Generaini Stavka) from noon to 
two. 

Ascending into Wenceslas Square, we 
gawked at the enormity and fervor of a 
chanting crowd surrounding the monu- 
ment. Somebody clued us in that this 
wasn't the big demonstration; the big one 
had taken place hours earlier. Later, during 
dinner at a pub (with a psychic waiter who 
kept slamming full mugs of beer on our 

Processed World #25 



table before we'd think to open our 
mouths), the next table was erupting 
between about 8 shitfaced guys still deliri- 
ous over Jakes' resignation the previous 
day. A while later most of them attached 
themselves to our table, boisterous and 
eager to try out their English on us. And 
that's how we found out where the next 
day's demonstration was. 

28-11-89 

Yesterday was the General Strike. At 
noon, the whole long promenade in Wen- 
ceslas Square was jammed so thick with 
people that you could hardly move. And it 
wasn't just the students; I got the over- 
whelming sensation that the whole city of 
Prague was right there. I was particularly 
moved by how many old people were 
present, who never thought they'd see a 
day like this! Remarkable to be in such a 
mass of people, where nearly every face 
has the look of having changed so dramat- 
ically in just one week. 

in the evening I was fortunate to walk 
into a place called Laterna Magicka (Magic 
Lantern Theater), where the Obcanske 
Forum (Civic Forum) holds its daily En- 
glish-translated press conference, which 
was just convening. Even though it was 
packed, I had no trouble getting in. (I told 
them I left my press pass in Berlin.) It was 
amazing to see some of the questions 
these Western journalists ask: "What will 
you do if the government rejects your 
demands?" As if anything in these circum- 
stances can possibly be figured out that far 
in advance! After the press conference, I 
wandered around, and was drawn by 
chance to a banner-covered building. The 
door was open, so I climbed the stairs and 
went inside. Many of the art galleries and 
theaters that are on strike are now being 
used as headquarters and workshops for 
the Movement. This was one of those 
places — it seemed to be a clearinghouse 
for the underground press, a makeshift yet 
efficient operation. I particularly loved all 
the slightly incongruous elements; a vault- 
ed ceiling with a delicate fresco on it that's 
200 years old, a computer in the next 
room, along with a fleet of manual type- 
writers, including a couple of those black 
"iron horse" varieties from the 1920s. 

Everybody here puts in such long days 
(and nights)! When I showed up last night, 
they thought 1 was a journalist wanting to 
interview them, and they were apologetic 
that they were finally ending their work day 
just as I showed up. But actually it was 
perfect, for they were just beginning to 
party and unwind. 

"Sorry we can't help you, but would you 
like a beer?" said one. 

"Prague is such a beautiful city; you 
should come back and visit sometime 
when we're not busy having a revolution!" 
said another. 

Vienna 10-12-89 

This is the first weekend that Czechs are 



permitted to travel more freely, so of 
course Vienna is literally swarming with 
them, although personally I don't know 
why any of them would want to leave 
Czechoslovakia at such an exciting time as 
this. 

What a comedown it is to go straight 
from Prague, where the streets are filled 
with young people demanding freedom, to 
Vienna where the streets are filled with 
middle-aged matrons in full-fur coats out 
doing their Xmas shopping! 

Even the architecture is different — in 
Prague centrum the buildings seem to be 
built on a human scale, whereas here the 
buildings are so much more imposing, like 
they're designed to make you feel small, 
less sure of yourself (even if they're 
roughly similar architectural styles from 
similar periods). Even the statues in Prague 
seem so much more alive and sensual — 
here they just seem to be made of stone. 

I would have stayed in Prague longer but 
I only had a transit visa this time, and I did 
stretch it; stayed an extra day or so beyond 
what I was supposed to, and they did look 
at me kind of funny at the border, and 
made a cursory glance through my pack, 
but they didn't ask me any questions. 

It was interesting this week to note some 
visual changes in Prague after a week and 
a half away; the store windows and 
subways are still just as plastered with 
posters and all kinds of stuff, but more of 
them are printed now, and look a little 
slicker, not as homemade. The gallery 
space now has a name, N.T.S. (roughly, 
an acronym for "Independent Press Cen- 
ter"). They now have 2 computers instead 
of one, and also a huge photocopy ma- 
chine which is constantly in use. 

Most inspiring is to see and feel the 
sensual splendor of that ancient city, and 
realizing that this is now that moment 
when the people themselves are coming 
alive enough to match the splendor of the 
city. Sometimes I think that I live just to 
see Prague again. 

— Glenn Caley Bachmann 




Page? 



JooRHeV 15 THe laHp of T* 




I 



I \f btcDinc oljsesst'd witli ihc I'-word 
these days. Like every healthy, sentient 
creature I want to be F'ed fully and 
frequently. Indeed, without F there could be 
no life. And everyone truly alive strongly 
identifies with the pursuit of F in all its 
peculiar forms the world over. But an awful 
disease is killing our desire to F and be F'ed. 
AIDS is clearly one manifestation but not 
the disease itself. The disease is really the 
fear of F and our willingness to settle for 
something less than the complete, oceanic, 
full body F we all deserve. 

I've always been an outspoken advocate ol 
free-love including the freedom to (some- 
times) be love-free. Now everyone seems to 
laugh nostalgic at that and misuse the 
F-word so that it means the opposite of what 
it should. I say it's high time to get the 
F-word out of the closet and proclaim loudly 
and passionately: "FREE mel Yes, FREE 
me baby, FREE me good! FREE me, over 
and over again!!" 

I know this sounds lull of acne and 
adolescence, but I'm seriously concerned 
how the word freedom has been fucked with. 
It has been seriously victimized in a 
[jattcrn of continuous abuse. In preparing 
for a trip to Eastern Europe in April, 1990, 
every second word one hears is "free" 
markets or "free" elections. What an abso- 
lutely vulgar, retrograde use of language; 
what an absurd vicious joke. Please tell me 
one thing that is free in the capitalist 
marketplace. Toilets used to be but even 
that costs now. Has any U.S. senatorial 
campaign been waged for less that $1 
million in the last two decades:* This kind ot 
trcc-dom is precisely that — dumb— just an- 
other word for "fuck you sucker," 

It's curious, but I stumbled upon this 
thorny doublespeak around freedom 
through reflection on one of my most valued 
personal freedoms. Something unavailable 
to probably 90% of the world's population. 
That is the freedom to tra\el to distant 



Photo from BERLIN WALL ART bv Mi'-h 
places and different cultures. This desire to '^ ^* "^""g^ser*. Heinz). Kuzdas 

visit an exotic people distinct from your own 



culture is a particularly American (Western) 
phenomenon. Foremost, we have finan- 
cial/political opportunities very few have. 
But it is more than that, we also have a 
singular cultural flexibility and ambiguity. 
During a year stay in Africa, I'll never forget 
how "Wye" Katende, a seventeen year old 
Ugandan living in a remote village in the 
foothills of the Ruwenzori mountains, inno- 
cently questioned the notion of freedom 
through travel: "Mr. Mike, why did you 
come here? You are so far from your home. 
You must cry at night for your family." 

For better or worse, family and other ties 
d(j not bind us, especially the traveling 
types, as strongly as elsewhere. This was 
strikingly expressed by a young Masai 
cattleherder I became friends with in Tan- 
zania. By using Swahili we could converse 
fairly well, and one day I asked him if he 
would like to travel. He let me know he 
would never consider traveling any further 
than he could walk with his cattle. He then 
asked me who was taking care of my cattle 
back home. When I replied I had no cattle 
he was incredulous. This was unimaginable. 
Since I was an American he probably 
imagined I had dozens. At first, he thought I 
was joking; he really didn't believe my story. 
When I convinced him it was the truth, he 
started crying he felt so sorry for me. 

I've always put great effort into finding 
ways to avoid being the casual tourist who 
blitzes the local highlights while replicating 
the lifestyle of home. I try to fit in and be up 
front that I'm an American visitor. I've often 
made my trips "working holidays," partly for 
the money but mostly as the best way to gain 
real contact in people's everyday life. Get- 
ting a job certainly immerses you in the fray 
instead of the role of culture vulture sca- 
venging on local prime rib. But working is 
impractical many tiriies and inidesirable in 



most places. Sometimes I have posed as a 
student, once as an anthropologist, and both 
seemed to open doors that would otherwise 
be closed. 

Over the years I'xe moved away irom the 
"working holiday" approach toward the 
"political holiday." We're not talkin' work 
brigades to Nicaragua here — which are long 
on work and short on holiday. By "political 
holiday" I mean partly a vacation and partly 
an opportunity to observe and participate in 
a time of radical social change. For me this 
includes learning about customs and social 
interests that aren't (overtly) political as well 
as the radical culture in contention with the 
powers-that-be. The latter has usually been 
my primary interest. This means mostly 
watching what's shaking down; it's also 
important to exercise a critical eye and 
express your own opinions rather than just 
following the "correct" revolutionary party 
or mass movement. 

This has some qualifications, however. 
During a 6 month stay in South Africa in 
1988 just after their second state of emer- 
gency (the inversion, "emergency of the 
state" is the more accurate phrase) I quite 
willingly chose to work uncritically with the 
AN(>. I even temporarily became an Angli- 
can missionary, despite 32 years of devout 
anti-C>hristianity, since working with their 
material aid programs (food, health care, 
education) was the only way I could gain 
access to the townships. While I was (and 
am) critical of the ANC, such criticisms 
made no sense within the context of ruthless 
state repression. This is the usual problem; 
it is only after a resistance movement has 
toppled the existing regime that there is a 
space to make useful criticisms. For this is 
the true point of departure in which real 
differences between oppositional groups 
concretely emerges. 

r\e been taken to task for being that 



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Processed World #25 



too-critical- radical- from-afar more than 
once. The usual banter "How can you as an 
American, troni a position ol privilege, not 
support the call by the homegrown opposi- 
tion? They know the situation best — if you 
don't uncritically support them you are 
aiding their oppressors." There is some truth 
to this criticism about being too critical. I 
am (globally, though not nationally) privi- 
leged by the very fact I can choose to travel 
to such places and situations. I am also 
neither directly a victim nor a natural 
outgrowth of resistance there. Indeed, it is 
tremendous fortune to be an international- 
ist, not just theoretically, but practically, by 
directly experiencing social ruptures and 
change the world over. This is precisely why 
a "privileged" outsider might have a fresh, 
useful view regarding what's coming down. 

This will be tested in a few days when 1 
leave for a two month stay in Eastern 
Europe. Besides simply appreciating and 
learning from the different people and 
cultures I am (and will be) disturbed about 
simply replacing authoritarian communism 
with an equally (but less transparent, more 
diffuse) authoritarian capitalism. As I tell 
friends and acquaintances, my desire to 
warn Eastern Europeans about the sham ol 
free markets, free elections and capitalism in 
general, m.any let me know this is incor- 
rect/inappropriate. For instance, "They 
have materially/politically suffered for so 
long they just want to make life better — 
(they) want the good things of the West and 
wrong for you to tell them that desire is 
wrong." (There is nothing wrong with the 
desire for a better, materially richer life. 
What is wrong is believing the false promis- 
es that western capitalism actually fulfills 
these desires.) 

This complaint goes hand in glove with 
another common criticism: "Well if you're 
really so damn radical stay home and help 
change the U.S. After all, it is your turf and 
truly the world's worst enemy." True 
enough. I'd be deceiving myself if I didn't 
acknowledge my initial attraction to Eastern 
Europe was the speed and quality of change 
there is a helluva lot more inspiring than the 
bleak vortex of social change in America. 
Even though I was born and continue to 
reside in the U.S., I've never identified with 
being an American but rather a world citizen 
first. 

Admittedly, the U.S. plays a dominant 
role in world aggression and deserves special 
attention from radicals. So I definitely do a 
lot to try to change the planetary work/war 
machine here — alter all, this is where I live 
most of the time. But I feel no special duty to 
entrench myself exclusively in the American 
theater. This seems to be a peculiar kind ol 
nationalism, just as twisted and bigoted as 
the religious, ethnic, or statist varieties — if 
you believe you must completely tidy up 
your own cave before stepping out into the 
light of the world. It is one half of a common 
guilt trip for radicals. Either stay home or 
martyr yourself in some type of work 
brigade. Both are based on heaps of guilt, 



work and sacrifice. Not exactly the stuff real 
freedom is made from. 

The flip side of this, one felt by the vast 
majority of Americans, simply says: "Have a 
good time! Forget all that political shit. Just 
relax. Get a nice tan. And by the way, bub, 
you might come back and entertain us with 
an exotic slide show of natives spearing 
colored fish in a pristine coral reel." Besides 
the goldfish bowl syndrome (you are the 
goldfish looking out of the bowl at the 
surrounding world, while the locals gather 
round to stare in, and each inhabits an 
environment the other can't breathe in) I 
find it exceedingly alienating and boring to 
be isolated from the political forces at hand. 
1 am looking for full enjoyniciil and radiial 
deployment. 

This trip to Eastern Europe will be my 
se(()nd "political holiday." I've never 
planned a trip so much as this one. Two 
other PWcrs and I sent letters and copies of 
PW to scores of independent radical groups 
and individuals throughout Poland, East 
Ciermany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. 
We have also made our own personal 
Aiiti- Business cards for each language to 
make ties with indigenous corporate insult- 
ants. We al.so made similarly confrontation- 
al T-shirts to give away while there; boxes of 
stuff have been shipped ahead. 



One fruit of all this planning has been the 
response received even before leaving. A 
radical from Szcecin, Poland, not only 
extended a warm invitation ("We could 
arrange meetings for you with greens, trade 
unions, anarchists. . .") but also apprised us 
of what to expect: "I don't know how much 
you know about Poland, but let me warn 
you that even among so-called radicals or 
alternatives you can find strange minds." 
Concerning popular Polish attitudes to the 
west and western leaders, he warns that 
most people see George Bush and Margaret 
Thatcher as "great politicians," explaining 
that "the slogan 'F^nemy of my enemy is iny 
friend' suits very well here." 1 also got a 
sense of the ennui people must feel there 
wlun he quipped, "So do not wait, friends, 
because we are waiting." 

We loo are waiting but in a different way. 
In the U.S., it's not only history but the 
present that's a nightmare we have yet to 
awaken from. The speed and degree of 
recent changes in Eastern Europe is incon- 
ceivable here today. There is little fire, 
much fear and stability. A few on the 
margins try to starde the sleepy inmates. So 
while we wait, there is time to share and 
learn from each other's struggles. This we do 
not ha\e to wait for. 

- C:iub Med-O 




Processed World #25 



Page 9 



Violente Processing: 

FightingjWords ^nd ^outh Afric^ 



What makes jou suddenly so interested in South Africa? 
Does the stench of our corpses start to bother you? 

— Sipho Sepamla 

Oouth Africa is once again on the tube, in the flashbulb 
afterburn of Nelson Mandela's release from jail after twenty- 
seven years out of the public eye. He walked through the gates 
of Victor Verster Prison in early February. During his last 
year of captivity, he was a "faceless man with a fax machine,"' 
negotiating the shots with the lameduck though ironfisted 
government as they prepared for "talks about talks." 

Mandela came to light in the edenic wine country near 
Paarl. It was a short drive to Cape Town, where in a speech 
he reaffirmed his dedication to the principles for which he had 
been sentenced to life imprisonment. A few days later, a quick 
flight north took him home to Soweto, a couple dozen 
kilometers from Johannesburg. At one to two million people 
(precise figures, due to the exigencies of apartheid, are 
impossible to produce), Soweto is the most populous urban 
area in Southern Africa, an acronymic concentration city — 
SOuthWEst TOwnship. 

It has been a long haul, but the struggle isn't over yet. In an 
historic moment, the ANC held its first talks with the 
government in May. The genie of change, once loosed, is 
awfully hard to coax back into the bottle. 

The African National Congress (ANC), established in 
1912, is Africa's oldest liberation movement. With Namibia 
attaining independence in March, South Africa will be last on 
the continent to shake off the racist vestiges of colonialism, 
palefaced minority rule. 

The dry white "season of violence" is supposed to be over, 
according to President F.W. de Klerk's surprisingly concilia- 
tory speech opening Parliament in Cape Town, on February 
2nd of this year. Yet "unrest" continues, as the tortured skein 
of apartheid is riven by its own contradictions. War is being 
fought in Natal against a riveting green backdrop, in and 
around the Valley of the Thousand Hills, outside Pietermar- 
itzburg. The United Democratic Front (UDF), a coalition 
aligned with the ANC, is in conflict with Inkatha, a 
chauvinistic Zulu tribal organization. Thousands have been 




killed in the crossfire in the last three years. 

The bantustans, or so-called independent homelands are 
convulsed by coups (in Transkei, Ciskei, and now Venda); 
four of the six main homeland leaders refuse to meet with de 
Klerk. These homelands were a costly mistake, a segregation- 
ist effort to create cheap labor reserves on an unmatched scale. 
17 million people, out of the total South African population of 
30 million people live in the homelands — 3 1/2 million are 
there as the result of forced relocations. 

Nowhere else has a government sought to denationalize its 
racial majority — stripping them of South African citizenship 
— then renationalizing them along forced tribal lines. Ulti- 
mately, they are going to have to be reincorporated with 
South Africa, in bizarre contrast to the independence 
movements of the Baltic states and the myriad popular fronts 
emerging in the southern Soviet republics, seeking deannexa- 
tion. 

Some are quick to paint de Klerk, the white President 
(representing South Africa's National Party), a reformist a la 
Gorbachev. While there may not be much risk of de 
Klerkomania sweeping the world, it would be well to take 
"Pretoriastroika" with a word of caution from de Tocqueville: 
The most dangerous time for a bad government is when it starts to reform 
itself. 

Mandela has journeyed to Lusaka, Zambia, where he was 
appointed Deputy President of the exiled African National 
Congress. This is a short-term position, from which he can 
soon be expected to become President of "the new South 
Africa." 

His release marks a southern symmetry with the freeing of 
Vaclav Havel, whose accession to President of Czechoslovak- 
ia shows what a short walk it can be from prison to 
leadership. 

And, just as impressive, is the well of human^;«</ness which 
marks a new, more benign style of leadership. Neither Havel 
nor Mandela show bitterness towards their erstwhile captors. 
"An eye for an eye and the nation is blind," says one Civic 
Forum slogan — a pithy and persuasive argument opposing 
vengeance against the ousted morally bankrupt Czechoslovak 
Communist authorities. 



Page 10 



Processed World #25 



Nelson Mandela has shown himself to 
be a rare and self-effacing man of great 
subtlety, patience and power. He is very 
much in contrast with the whites, par- 
ticularly the ruling tribe. In stereotypi- 
cal fashion, many of the older Afrikan- 
ers rail at length about their many 
grievances, enmities that can be dated 
generations, if not centuries: 

"Remember that Queen Victoria? A 
bigger mass murderer than Adolf Hitler T says 
Frank de Klerk, an elderly legal clerk 
living in Pretoria. In many ways, he is a 
classic example of the verkrampte (hard- 
line) Afrikaner. He speaks with a thick, 
almost German, Transvaal accent that 
rolls his rrrs. 

"My grandfather fought in 14 kaftir 
wars," he continued. My aunt and 
cousin both winced, having heard this 
spleen ad nauseam. "And I can tell you, 
before I'm ruled by a black, I'll shoot 
every bloody black bastard in sight." 

In 1900, three of the de Klerk family 
farms were burned by the British, (de 
Klerk is a common Boer name; Frank is 
not directly related to the current Presi- 
dent, F.W.) Afrikaner women and chil- 
dren—mostly of the rebel Boer repub- 
lics, the Transvaal and the Orange Free 
State — were put in concentration 
camps, where 26,000 died. Relatively 
few — 7,000 — of the Boer fighters died, 
while British casualties numbered about 
22,000. Through force of Empire, and 
"a bumper crop of burnt farms,"' Britain 
eventually wore the Boer guerrillas 
down, and peace was negotiated. 

After "a century of wrong" at the 
hands of the British, many of the Boer 
bitteretnders wanted to fight to the abso- 
lute end. As Frank de Klerk made clear 
to me over dinner — at least for those 
who could remember oppression when 
they were on the receiving end — there 
can be no overestimating the depths ot 
Afrikaner rage. I listened, for that is 
why I went to South Africa: to hear 
South Africans talk about what possess- 
es them, as they grope their way to the 
end of a nationalist nightmare. 

And as you see at night, Jar in the Bay 
reflections of the stan and city lamps, 
so in the dark depths of our people sway 
images oj the concentration camps. 

It was more than just a holiday in 
Pretoria. Partly I went because of an 
irresistable need to step beyond the 
narrow confines of my life as an infor- 
mation worker. From 8 to 5, I work 
cloistered in the desert groves of aca- 
deme, a sanctum sanctorum, the very 
rarefied atmosphere of a special collec- 
tions library. 



Books were part of my displacement, 
for it was reading that took me beyond 
the pettiness of narrow nationalism. I 
plundered the collections for a sense of 
history, to fill out the outlines of what I 
knew from the all-pervasive media web. 
To ease the infernal pain that convulsed 
those early days of estrangement from 
the Love of My Life, I turned to the 
videocool inner climes of TV, with all its 
basic peripherals — at least that is how I 
got through the first hellish days and 
nights alone. The tube punched a hole 
through distance — an amazing if illuso- 
ry form of armchair travel. 

One can only trek so far in a reading 
room, or as a couch potato. After a 
while, even trips to the kitchen get old, 
to say nothing of Richard Attenbor- 
ough, or, however well-intentioned, 
Public Television. After six months of 
heavy tubal stimulation, it was time to 
broaden other horizons. 

The South African Question had a 
particularly strong resonance. There 
were personal motivations that made 
this an especially important point for 
departure. When my wife abandoned 
our marriage with the cliched seven 
years' itch, there wasn't much left to 
moor me except dread routine. Our 
breakup was due I'm sure in part to my 
native stubbornness, a self-defeating 
obstinacy that I could easily relate to my 
paternalistic Afrikaner family back- 
ground. 

My father left South Africa in the 
early fifties. After working many years 
in the Copper Belt (Zambia), he emi- 
grated to pursue his education with a 
doctorate at McGill University in Mon- 
treal. His peripatetic career has in- 
volved exploration of the largely un- 
tapped mineral wealth of Canada. 

Without understanding why, I've al- 
ways felt a strong identification with 
him, though we have not always been 
the best of friends. One of my chief 
parental imperatives was to attain bilin- 
gualism in French and English, but 
Afrikaans remained a secret language 
my father used in moments of rare 
mellowness or intimacy. It wasn't till I 
was nearing teens that I even realized he 
spoke with an accent. My own feet are 
itchy to match his. After a decade in the 
U.S., I still feel far from "home" — 
wherever that is. 

As the "no fault" divorce shunted its 
way through the legal bureaucracy of 
the state of California, I was rarin' to 
go. . .somewhere. 

Obstacles abound to our understand- 
ing of what goes on in the world today, 



from the realignments of Mittel- and 
Osteuropa, to the liberation of Southern 
Africa. As long as South Africa can give 
good tube, it has the guaranteed G spot 
in our circuit of consciousness. The 
sight of Mandela free is certainly one of 
the great images of our day, although 
fifteen minutes of fame cannot begin to 
cover this story. 

People Power and the Velvet Revolu- 
tion were more than just flickers on the 
cave wall, they took us to a new level of 
broadcast, a tube beyond its traditional 
role as electronic phenothiazine. It's no 
longer "news from nowhere" that we 
see — from the American shores, it ap- 
pears that history is happen- 
ing. . .elsewhere. Reactions were none 
too encouraging when I announced to 
my Berkeley colleagues that I was going 
to South Africa. 

"But you're not supposed to go there." 

"Better take a bulletproof vest." 

Family was no more supportive. My 
father couldn't understand why I'd 
bother; he wasn't close to his many 
relatives there, and was a bit uneasy 
about my meeting them, or perhaps 
concerned at what they might think 
meeting me. My brother viewed this 
plan as further proof of my death wish: 
"They'll kill you — " meaning, I suppose, 
that I could be a tempting target for 
whatever transgressions I might commit 
on this existential errand. 

I was willing to risk it. What did I 
have to lose? I'd never been one to toe a 
party line, and was not noted for 
political correctness — it would be a - 
pleasure to commit this sin of a mission. 
Although I believed in divestment and 
sanctions, I also thought information 
was essential to a peaceful transition. 

It was my first vacation in many 
years. I looked at it, strangely, as a 
liberation to get away from my job, even 
if that meant going to a garrison state to 
search for myself in a distant fatherland. 

Beyond the romance of embarking on 
this telemachiad, South Africa drew me in 
a wav I associated with the Spanish Civil 
War of the Thirties, or, I suppose, the 
internationalism of the sandalista bri- 
gades of the Eighties trooping down to 
Nicaragua to work in the coffee fields 
and take flak from the contras. These 
new crusades are by nature revolution- 
ary, to offset the imperialist adventures 
Westerners are better known for. 

People with antiapartheid inclinations 
were expected to show their credentials 
by jumping on the boycott bandwagon. 
I agree that performers should not play 
Sun Citv, but when Paul Simon brought 



Processed World #25 



Page 1 1 



out Graceland, I was delighted by the 
fruitful and ear-opening collaboration. 

It saddened me to see a man like 
Conor Cruise O'Brien — someone I don't 
necessarily agree with— shouted down 
by angry demonstrators when he gave a 
series of guest lectures at the University 
of Cape Town in 1986. They protested 
his breaking the boycott. . .yet in the 
case of an academic and educator, is it 
right to limit the free flow of ideas? Isn't 
the banning oi people and ideas a sanction 
employed by the South African govern- 
ment? 

The same inflexible dogmatism is 
evident on the right, as exemplified by 
the Afrikaner Resistance Movement 
leader Eugene Terre- Blanche. The 
AWB (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging) 
is infamous for the swastika-like emblem 
on its flag, often seen at rallies, of the 
three interlocking sevens, reputed to be 
a millenarian solution to the 666 Beast 
of the Apocalypse. Terre-Blanche and 
his boerjes tarred and feathered the 
historian, Floors van Jaarsveld during a 
1979 speech at the University of South 
Africa in Pretoria. An example was 
made of this professor because he ques- 
tioned the Afrikaans version of manifest 
destiny, the divinity of their Day of the 
Covenant. 

A former policeman and bodyguard 
to Prime Minister John Vorster, Terre 
Blanche (the "White Earth") has been 
charged at various times for having 
arms caches, illegal possession of weap- 
ons and ammunition. To date, he and 
his followers have never had worse than 
their wrists slapped. This may soon 
change, as the AWB and conservative 
whites are increasing their militance in 
reaction to the release of Mandela, and 
the government's meeting with the 
ANC. The Conservative Party leader 
Andries Treurnicht recently called for "a 
third freedom struggle" — a thinly-veiled 
call to arms — at a rally of 50,000 
right-wing whites in Pretoria. 

In the sacred history of the tribe, the 
Boers made a pact with God — if He 
gave the Voortrekkers victory against 
Dingaan's Zulu impis at Ncome River, 
in 1838, they would forever mark that as 
the Day of the Covenant. In Afrikaner 
history, it is referred to as the Battle of 
Blood River, and it demonstrated God's 
recognition and support for the justice 
of their cause. 

One essential feature of Afrikaner 
civil tradition is for men to go on 
commando. Breyten Breytenbach, the 
renegade Afrikaner poet and painter, 
writes of 



"this mythical concept in modern-day White 
South African awareness. . . Not so modern after 
all. The history of the Afrikaner has been one oj 
borders, of the enemy lurking just over the 
horizon, of buffer states used against the world 
wanting to take over the lands their ancestors 
conquered. They were proud of their periods on 
the border, of the hunts they participated in. ' 

In recent years, particularly under de 
Klerk's pugnacious predecessor, 
P.W.Botha, these hunts have gone far 
beyond South Africa's borders, "the 
rogue elephant of Southern Africa."' Yet 
Botha was regarded as a moderate! The 
verkrampte (hardliners) were actually 
concerned that South Africa might be 
afflicted by a "psychosis of peace"* in the 
early eighties. 

Newspeak — the deliberate simplifica- 
tion of vocabulary and linguistic com- 
plexity as a means of limiting crimes in 
thought and speech — is alive and well, 
both at home and abroad. Words can be 
made to betray their meanings without 
having to pass through Room 101 of 
1984. "Words tossed around as if/denied 
location by the wind/... that stalk our 
lives like policemen" runs a poem by 
Sipho Sepamla. 

The U.S. Pentagon is a prime pur- 
veyor of such malignant wordage, with 
"permanent prehostility" (peace), "lethal 
aid" for supplying proxie forces with 
weapons, "violence processing" (com- 
bat), and best of all, the "Peacekeeper" 
(MX) Missile. In Eastern Europe, peo- 
ple did not wait in line, they joined 
"socialist waiting collectives."' 

While we may identify the violence of 
apartheid with forced relocations, 
peaceful marchers being gassed, or fired 
upon by soldiers in casspirs (not the 
friendly ghost, but armored personnel 
carriers), there are many more subtle 
and insidious components to that 
"Frankenstein-Madison Avenue caul- 
dron of wordsmithing."' 

For a time the government had its 
Bantu Administration Department, 
which was responsible for administering 
townships and the homelands. It was 
responsible for forced relocations, but 
underwent a name-change when bu- 
reaucrats realized that its acronym was 
not contributing to its effectiveness. It 
became the Ministry of Cooperation of 
Development. 

After the Sharpeville massacre in 
1960, and through the seventies. South 
Africa became a model police state, with 
a powerful secret police (BOSS — 
Bureau of State Security) operating 
around the world... and at home. 

In the late seventies. South Africa 



experienced a quiet military coup when 
the Minister of Defense, P.W. Botha, 
became Prime Minister. He retained 
the Defense Minister portfolio until he 
was able to install his handpicked head 
of the Defense Force, General Magnus 
Malan, as the new Defense Minister. 

Together, these two "securocrats" 
dominated South African politics for the 
next decade. They presided over a 
tremendous build-up of the military — 
today South Africa is one of the top ten 
arms exporters in the world — and 
adopted the concept of the "total strate- 
gy" for a long term counterinsurgency. 
This "triumvirate of 'totality': total 
strategy, total onslaught, total involve- 
ment" were the keywords of this era.' 
The totalitarian blueprint for the mili- 
tarization of society was conducted with 
characteristic, even absurd attention to 
detail. It included a "Leisure Time 
Utilization Unit" to promote "spiritual 
defensibility" in the ranks."* 

The "total strategy" of P.W. Botha 
and his protege General Malan can at 
last be found on the same ashheap as 
trickle-down Reaganomics, and lately, 
Stalinism. As details of their dirty tricks 
come to light, F.W. de Klerk has, with 
visible reluctance, been compelled to 
launch an investigation of the innocu- 
ous-sounding "Civil Cooperation Bu- 
reau." This unit, operated by the milita- 
ry, was a death squad. 

In any situation of social or political po- 
larity, debate is all too susceptible to reduc- 
tio ad absurdum. Ideas become slogans, 
some inspirational ( ' An injury to one is 
an injury to all" or "Strike a woman, you 
have struck a rock"), some unrealistic and 




Page 12 



Processed World #25 



self-defeating ("No educdtion bfiore lib- 
eration"), and some virulently racist ("Sit 
die katfir op sy plek" - "Put (he nigger in 
his place"). 

To move freely across the lines, or to 
more easily slip through the strictures of 
cant is one of the virtues of being an 
outsider. Travel is a way to remain 
outside. 

As a writer, another kind of outsider, 
I went to hear how writers and poets 
sustained themselves in life under 
Emergency conditions. The timing of 
my visit was nestled in the brief period 
between the '85/'86 Emergency, and the 
June '86 Emergency (which continues to 
this day in Natal province). 

Much has happened to the people I 
spoke with: at least two have gone into 
exile; some were detained; others have 
had their organizations banned — the 
UDF and the End Conscription Cam- 
paign are only now able to resurface 
after Botha and the Minister of Law ancJ 
Order, Adriaan Vlok, clamped down on 
them earlier in the Emergency. 

As censorship has been applied to the 
arts, black writers have borne the brunt 
of bannings and persecution. Beginning 
in the fifties, with Bantu Education, 
teachers and writers (e.g. Ezekiel 
Mphahlahle), journalists (Nat Nakasa) 
and so many others have had to flee "the 
belo\ed land.' Musicians and singers 
(Hugh Masakela, Miriam Makeba), 
poets (Dennis Brutus, Arthur Nortje, 
Wally Serote) have continued this flight 
through the sixties after Sharpeville, the 
seventies with Soweto, and in the 
eighties' semi-permanent Emergency. 

Simply putting distance between 
themselves and the casspirs, hippos, 
banning, detention, and Robben Island 
is not always enough. Exile has its own 
dangers; 

Life abroad lacki the challenge thai faces us 
in South Africa. After a lifetime of illegal living 
in the Republic 's shebeens, the exile', are suddenly 
called upon to become respectable law-abiding 
citizens. Not a law to break in sight. I have 
broken too many— regulations to change so 
easily. Even if I did change. J would miss the 
experience of illegal living. 

wrote Nat Nakasa. He, Arthur Nortje 
and Ingrid Jonker are writers who 
committed suicide in exile. Wally Serote 
narrowly escaped assassination in the 
South Africa Defense Force's 1986 raid 
on Gaborone, Botswana. 

Whites, of course, have an entirely 
different tolerance of conditions in an 
abnormal society. One of my relatives 
said, with a certain smugness, "I am as 
opportunistic as any white person in this 




country; while it lasts, I enjoy it." Heart 
disease, suicide, and alcoholism are 
three of the greatest dangers facing 
whites in South Africa. 

Mike Kirkwood, an editor at Ravan 
Press, put it another way: 

. . I I'hel writer who is living in an 
insulated white suburb, backed up by very good 
video resources, television, all the literature he 
can read, good food, continental cuisine, fresh 
frerich bread every morning, doesn 't have to see a 
black person if he doesn't want to. He goes 
shopping in the most elaborate malls all tucked 
underground like bunkers — even that writer, 
who can be totally insulated from the political 
reality of South Africa, is aware that that very 
experience is a deeply political one. It's almost 
impossible for him to keep out of mind the fact 
that the existence he is leading is dependent on 
the flames in the township. 

At the time — April 1986 — Ravan was 
situated in a dilapidated old house in the 
Berea district of Johannesburg. Berea 
and Hillbrow are adjoining residential 
neighborhoods with valleys of hi-rises 
running through them. These "grey 
areas " were often referred to with shud- 
ders by my relatives, for they are now 
home to tens of thousands of blacks 
illegally living in parts of town reserved 
for whites. Ravan is one of the more 
progressive imprints in South Africa; its 
writers include J. M. Coetzee and Nja- 
bulo Ndebeie. 

The office I visited was flrebombed a 
few years later. Although a considerable 
amount of stock was lost, Ravan en- 
dures as a publishing entity, issuing 
books and periodicals like Work In 
Progress and Staffrider. 

Mike was one of the chief editors, and 



PHOTO William Brummer 

had been the firm's director since 1977. 
Since the State of Emergency was 
reimposed following my visit, he has left 
the country, moving to England. 

MK: You will find in South Africa 
numerous pockets, of coniniunication, 
which arc very full inside that particular 
pocket. In other words, lots of dialects 
— not simply in a language sense, but in 
terms of idiom, in terms of a way people 
have of understanding each other. For 
instance, if you were to go around Berea, 
and talk to guys who live on the roof tops 
for a long time, you would find that they 
have an amazing pattern of communica- 
tion. 

Let me give. you an example. I wake 
up late in the night in my block of flats, 
which is just over here. I hear a guy 
whistling— this is two o'clock in the 
morning. He is whistling in the most 
incredible way, the way guys whistle 
cattle, but it clearly has a pattern to it. 
After a while, you hear a door opening 
somewhere, a gruff voice calling out in 
Zulu: "Hi. We're over here. Come this 
way." What this guys been doing is a bit 
like Richard the Lionhearted and his 
troubadour, singing outside the castle 
walls. He's identified his own fjoys, 
which is the word that people use. 

PW: And he doesn't know necessarily 
which building they'll be on, but if they 
hear the noise he makes — 

MK: Right, somebody's going to 
come running, and he's going to find his 
way. He might have come from miles 
and miles, from a distant part of the 
country — a rural boy new to the city. 
He's using his cattle whistle as a way of 
finding his home-boy connections. 

That's one example. Their whole 
world is very well-knit. It's a sort of 



Pr.><.e«icl World f 25 



Page I J 



support structure, one of the things that 
turns the whole "blacks are victims in 
South Africa" cliche upside down, be- 
cause people are not just victims; they do 
find ways to support each other in an 
oppressive situation. There you have 
quite a tight knit pocket of communica- 
tion. I'd suggest that South Africa, as a 
country, is relatively richer in pockets 
like that, which are not accessible. 

If you put a tape recorder in front ot 
those guys, they'd probably beat you 
up— they'd assume you were from the 
State, and that you were trying to get 
them to commit a felony of some kind, 
they'd wonder what they hell you were 
doing. 

PW: However well ordered a society 
you have, there are always going to be 
these cracks, and subcultures. In this 
case, it is literally the supra culture. 

MK: I think that's really an interesting 
point, because I think that's true. We're 
talking about a different level now, and 
for me the thing goes back to the theme 
of storytelling, really. What you're talk- 
ing about when you talk about subcul- 
tures developing in the cracks of a 
media-penetrated, media-inundated so- 
ciety is something similar to storytelling, 
but at a whole new level of development. 

In other words, I'm inclined to take a 
phrase like "the global village" quite 
seriously, in the sense that one is talking 
about a new possibility of communica- 
tion between tightly knit groups of 
people, but at a whole new level. I don't 
think one should just skip the levels. 

Those guys on the roof tops — it's going 
to take them quite a lot of time, quite a 
lot of community organization, political 
organization, before they can plug into 
some sort of world network of communi- 
cation, and talk to Processed World, to you 
guys in San Francisco, or a group 
somewhere else in the world. . . . 

If one is black, however, the possibil- 
ities are fewer. Another writer, Sipho 
Sepamla (author of the novel Ride the 
Whirlwind, and numerous books of 
poetry) spoke with me about prospects 
for change. 

SS: I'm the last person to say "Revolu- 
tion is the answer." Because I'm for life, 
rather than destroying life. I'm scared of 
violence, because I think it's anti-human 
to be violent. 

But, you see, I'm fairly all right. I look 
at the person who's not in a similar 
position to me, and I wonder what are 
the chances of that person improving his 
lot? The answer is that they're very 
small. Some people — I think this is the 
majority — are caught up in a situation 
where some of them wish they were never 
born. If they'd had a choice, they would 
have said to God, "Please, I don't want to 
go and live down there. I'd rather be 
where I am," in whatever form that is. 
When you look at the situation in the 



country — not at the black man, like me, 
who is able to sit with you, and talk your 
language— it is that man who is not able 
to articulate what's inside him. And you 
know he lives a pain, which he cannot 
bring out, and that is killing him. This 
bottling up — it's a pity, because it's going 
to kill him in the end. What then was the 
purpose in bringing him to Earth? To 
work for mere wages, to live under poor 
conditions? . . . 

I visited Sipho in Johannesburg, at 
Fuba, an art studio/exhibit space where 
he worked as an educator, and senior 
administrator. 

SS: There are very few people who 
buy books by black writers; you have to 
be known to be bought. A new writer will 
not find it easy to enter the market. 

PW: Where would their energies be 
going if they're creative, but feel too 
disillusioned to write or publish? Would 
they write for the desk drawer, do you 
think; are they self-publishing, samizdat 
type work; do they channel the energy 
into political action, or is it bottled up? 

SS: I think most of our feelings are 
bottled up. There is no way we could do 
what the Russians are doing with samiz- 
dat because the South African security 
system is very efficient — sooner or later 
they would catch up with anyone doing 
that kind of thing. 

I don't think many blacks would write 
stuff that they put away. It may be 
happening with whites, but I don't think 
blacks would do that. Our writing is 
immediate — we address ourselves to im- 
mediate issues, and we want to be 
published immediately. 

PW: How would you hope the writer 
affects the world? 

SS: I hope to God that more and more 
people would read the works I've written, 
but then there are so many things 
working against the tradition of writing 
and reading in this country. As a result, 
we don't have many people who read our 
works. Unfortunately, it is true that most 
of the readers are white, so we're caught 
up in a very ironic situation because 
although we claim we are not writing for 
Whitey, we find that Whitey is the one 
who reads our works. 

The Group Areas Act just consolidat- 
ed what was there already. I grew up 
before the time of apartheid, but apart- 
heid was in full swing even then — I grew 
up in a location that was miles from 
town. I don't think it is correct to blame 
apartheid lor that kind of thing [divisions 
between black and white writers]; apart- 
heid merely made it worse. Also, I 
suppose apartheid exposed the fallacy of 
a friendship that was in fact one-sided, 
because whites always expected us to go 
to them. Very few came to where we 
lived, even when the law was silent about 
that. 

There's no running away from it. The 



South Africa situation is like somebody 
sitting on a powder keg. . . . 
Apparently contradicting his earlier 
assertion, Sipho gave a different forecast 
for change; 

SS: I think revolution is our only 
solution. You know the whites are so 
entrenched, man, because ... what are 
people talking about? They can't be 
talking of Western values, because there 
are no Western values in this country. 
People are merely concerned about their 
material possessions, and I don't think 
anyone can expect whites to give up 
anything, because for us to rise they've 
got to halt the development of the growth 
of white people. 

PW: When majority rule is attained, 
do you see a rapprochement between the 
hard lines that are now drawn in the 
dust? 

SS: Unavoidable. I think we live by 
natural laws, rather than laws made by 
man. The laws made by man, some- 
where along the line, they break down. 
Apartheid was so rigid many years back, 
but the natural way of life has broken it 
down. The realities, economics, whatev- 
er, have broken apartheid down. 

PW: You think it will break down the 
Afrikaners' intransigence? 

SS: I think so. I've found it very 
interesting that among the Afrikaners, 
some of these chaps that I've heard 
express so-called liberal ideas are people 
that I know have traveled a great deal. As 
more and more of them get money, and 
move around, and find that there are 
black people outside who are having 
white women, who are moving in all 
circles of life, they must come back here 
and ask themselves, "What's so bad about 
what I saw out there?" And they will fall 
in line. I don't think they like being 
condemned by the world like they are 
being condemned right now. It takes 
some time for the majority to reach that 
point. That is what we are playing for. 

I think what is happening in this 




Page 14 



Processed World #25 



country is that the black people have now 
set the pace for how things have to move. 
Even it the white man is changing, those 
changes are invisible, because the people 
who are calling the tune are not the white 
people any more; they are the black 
people. To be acceptable, the white 
people will have to be in line with the 
pace set by the blacks. But change? 
Unavoidable. 

PW: But they will get swept up in that 
pace? 

SS: If they don't, they will get crushed 
under. . . . 

Many models are invoked in discus- 
sions of South Africa — the violence and 
unrest suggest the specter of a Lebanon. 
The real white nightmare is revolution. 

The poet James Matthews, who lives 
in Athlone, outside Cape Town, told me 
of the hopelessness that was taking hold 
among the younger generation: "We can 
accommodate any violence. Now we 
come back again to the existentialism of 
the young. That is why our kids don't 
worry, they say, 'Fuck, / don't care if I 
don't come home today. ' 

Proposed solutions include a federa- 
tion of cantons, on a Swiss model, as a 
means of protecting whites from black 
domination. Even more far-fetched are 
the secessionary white movements, like 
the extremist AWB, or the Friends of 
Oranje, whose ideas of a white home- 
land (a Boerestaat comprised, naturally, 
of the best and richest land) are no more 
tenable than the fragmentary black 
homelands Bophuthatswana or Ciskei. 

While de Klerk and his predecessor 
P.W. Botha have done much to dis- 
mantle "petty apartheid" with repeals of 
the Separate Amenities Act, Mixed 
Marriages and Immorality Acts, and 
the passbook laws, "grand apartheid" 
remains substantially intact. People 
continue to be classified by race (Popu- 
lation Registration Act) and in theory 
have their places of residence, the 
government services available to them, 
and their employment opportunities de- 
termined by this classification. 

Apartheid ("separateness") was given 
its name by the National Party, elected 
in 1948. As Sipho mentioned, the 
"colour bar" was nothing new. By 1936, 
87 % of the land was reserved for white 
settlement and development. The rest, 
largely inhospitable, was set aside for 
what was then 67% of the population 
— now more than 75% of South Afri- 
cans are black. Under the Group Areas 
Act, blacks are viewed as "temporary 
sojourners" in the white areas, tolerated 
only to the extent they are needed to 
work in the mines, on the farms, and in 
the pantries of white society. 

Processed World #2S 



One dearly-held belief among the 
whites is that the blacks can't rule 
themselves, they are still savages: "You 
can take 'em out of the bush, but you 
can't take the jungle out of their hearts." 
Or, as National Party MP Glenn Babb 
put it: "There is a survival ethic in South 
Africa which is important, because we 
have stood on the Limpopo and looked 
north and seen that Africa has not 
worked in the way in which we would 
like justice to work." 

The whites call this bogey the swart 
gevaar, or black danger. More proof 
that the "kaffirs" are unable to govern 
themselves, let alone take the reins of 
the whites' jealously guarded first world 
society. 

Because of the bold lines drawn 
reserving property and capital for the 
"civilized" whites — apartheid is an unu- 
sually cruel, if transparent mechanism 
to assure economic as well as racial 
hegemony for a privileged few — South 
Africa lends itself readily to a Marxist 
analysis, with blacks the working class. 
While this form of racial capitalism may 
have been effective up to a point, it 
cannot be maintained. For the economy 



to grow, apartheid must go, as it limits 
the education and placement of a skilled 
workforce. With the added stress of 
sanctions, and the drying-up of invest- 
ment, the economy has slowed while the 
population and unemployment have 
soared. 

Ampie Coetzee, a professor of Afri- 
kaans at the University of the Witwat- 
ersrand in 1986 (now at the University 
of the Western Cape), commented on 
this phenomenon: "That's the strangest 
thing about South Africa: apartheid has 
actually strengthened capitalism. It has 
made a definite class distinction between 
the worker and the bourgeois. The 
worker is the black man, and we whites 
are the bourgeois. And the worker is 
keeping this country going. 

"On the one hand, that's the strength 
of apartheid, but it could also be the 
weakness. When trade unions become 
more and more mobilized — that's where 
I think eventually we will probably see 
big changes. COSATU" was only 
formed this year. 

"That's very, very powerful. That's 
where this South African brand of 
capitalism could actually be broken — by 




Page 15 




the workers. Because the workers are all 
oppressed, and racially oppressed. They 
have ample motivation; it's just a case of 
mobilization." 

Schools have long been crucibles of 
resistance. They have been viewed by 
the black youth with understandable 
wariness. Bantu Education, promulgat- 
ed in the fifties by the future Prime 
Minister, H.F. Verwoerd, was training 
for enslavement. It was a policy of 
deliberately limiting blacks to roles as 
the wood hewers and mine-fodder for 
white society. Verwoerd was quite blunt 
in his views: "...[The] native child 
must be taught subjects which will 
enable him to work with and among his 
own people; therefore there is no use 
misleading him by showing him the 
green pastures of European society, in 
which he is not allowed to graze. Bantu 
Education should not be used to create 
imitation whites." 

llirough subtle and not-so subtle 
conditioning, the students were indoc- 
trinated with a view of a world in which 
they had precisely defined functions, 
with opportunities circumscribed by 
"job reservation" of skilled positions for 
whites, a much-lower pay scale for 
blacks, commutes which could last 6 
hours or more, and other impossible 
conditions. After the Soweto uprising of 
1976, there followed a period of tense 
calm, but then school strikes flared 
around the country in 1980, as the crisis 
in education deepened. 

One writer, Jaki Seroke, of Skotaville 



Press told me about some of the difficul- 
ties he had to deal with as a writer and 
editor. 

PW: You are involved in a writers' 
union? VVfiich one is it? 

JS: It's called the African Writers 
Association. It's not a union in the 
popular sense. It's an association of 
people who come together as writers, 
some as beginner writers. 

PW: Do you discuss works in pro- 
gress? 

JS: Yes, we discuss works in progress. 
It's a loose association. Skotaville Pub- 
lishing was formed by the association. 
We'll be publishing really topical books. 
Some will be political, and so on, but on 
the literary side, we don't want to be seen 
to be pushing writers who have not 
necessarily grasped the art of writing. 
The association has consciously been 
trying to influence Skotaville to exercise 
literaiy meiit on each case. We don't 
want to publish a play because it will 
have a sociological interest. 

PW: ... or because it's topical . . . 
JS: Not that we say art for art's sake, 
but the (raft of writing has to be done 
properly. There are drawbacks on that 
level. The influence of Bantu Education 
in the past thirty years has destroyed a lot 
of things here. The writers who are 
establisfied or who could write properly 
are the writers of the fifties, fiecause they 
never underwent that educational pro- 
cess. That's why most of our writers are 
in prison or the ones inside the country 
;ue not doing much. 

PW: Why would you say the ones in 
the country are silent, what silences 
them? 



JS:Basically, it was repression. A lot of 
our people are in prison. . . . 

One of the greatest weapons against 
tyranny, apart from sabotage and in- 
surrection, is for people to live and work 
together as they wish, without regard for 
insane decrees handed down by the 
state. It is by this means that grey areas 
like Hillbrow in Johannesburg wear 
down the teeth of apartheid. Where law 
is unenforceable, it falls into disrepute, 
and is rendered ultimately irrelevant. 

The Group Areas Act, the legislation 
that underpins the bantustans and 
townships by tribal division, may be the 
last pillar of apartheid to fall; already it 
is beginning to totter through resistance 
in the homelands (coups and armed 
insurrections) and people, black and 
white, increasingly ignoring it in the 
once white cities. 

After centuries of wrong, apartheid is 
withering away. Archbishop Desmond 
1 utu and Reverend Allan Boesak are 
right to ask to see its corpse. A death 
blow may still be needed, although the 
armed struggle waged by the military 
wing of the ANC — Umkhonto we 
Sizwe — has never been, and probably 
never will be capable of engaging the 
South Africa Defense Force decisively. 

The linguistic battlefield is where the 
future of South Africa may ultimately be 
decided. The Afrikaners attained power 
owing in large part to the development 
of their own language as a separate and 
distinct voice in Africa. They succeeded 
in unifying a white tribal power base, 
and used it to divide the country. 

SACHED, the South African Com- 
mittee on Higher Education, is another 
organization which has struggled to 
counter the intellectual depredations of 
Bantu Education. One of its directors, 
Neville Alexander, views culture as a 
process, and language policy as a base- 
line on which to develop a new national 
consensus. Encouraging the use of En- 
glish by the black majority (usually as a 
second or third language) assumes a 
critical importance, ironically, in the 
interests of decolonization. It serves to 
unify a people split across many lan- 
guage lines, and provides access to the 
world at large. "[The acquisition of 
English] represents. . .a form of capital 
accumulation. But this is a very special 
kind of capital since it is an instrument 
of communication and not one of pro- 
(iuction. It is nevertheless this instru- 
ment, and generally this instrument 
alone, which makes possible the organi- 
zation of the entire modern sector of 
production and distribution of goods. In 
other words, the more English you 



Page Ih 



Proiessed World #25 



know . . . the more likely you are to get a 
well-paying job, the more likely you are 
to accumulate capital, to gain economic 
power and thus political power."" 

The transition of South Africa from 
garrison state to majority rule will not 
be as swift as the opening up of Eastern 
Europe— to follow it requires more 
sustained attention than we can hope for 
from a week on Nightltne. The turmoil of 
apartheid has been clicking the counter 
towards critical mass, an ever intensify- 
ing revolution of rising expectations, 
with urgency written large on the world 
stage since Sharpeville, 1960. 

The reforms announced at the begin- 
ning of 1990 are motivated in large part 
by the desperate economic situation, 
due both to infernal factors and interna- 
tional pressure. As Sipho Sepamla 
pointed out, whites are going to have to 
surrender some of the privileges accord- 
ed them by color to arrive at a deeper 
security. Men like my Uncle Frank de 
Klerk will have to compete on equal 
terms with people he might consider his 
racial inferiors. The Broederbond tradi- 
tion of baantjies vir boeties (jobs for 
friends) has led to half of all employable 
Afrikaners working in some capacity for 
the State. Job reservation will have to 
end, followed by an affirmative action to 
correct labor and property inequities, 
the "redistribution of wealth" which 
whites dread, but increasingly accept as 
inevitable. 

After four years of harsh Emergency 
Rule, some press restrictions have been 
lifted; media workers such as Zwelake 
Sisulu (editor of the New Nation) has 
been released from lengthy detention 



— in time for the innumerable photo 
opportunities afforded by the returning 
exiles, as African National Congress 
leaders have whisked through Jan 
Smuts Airport in Johannesburg en route 
to the "talks about talks" in Cape Town. 

Western media have to a large degree 
complied with restrictions imposed dur- 
ing the Emergency, which is why little 
was heard about South Africa in the 
mainstream press from 1986 through 
1989. Even worse, news reports in both 
the American and British media too 
often blandly repeat the language of the 
South African Bureau of Information, 
apparent in the expression "black on 
black violence." That stock phrase has 
shades of the swart gevaar, along with the 
tribal sleight of hand by which the ruling 
National Party has used a trick of 
apartheid to divide and rule on lines of 
its own devising. "It's just more faction 
fighting, showing these uncivilized 
blacks aren't fit to rule" is the message 
implicit in such terminology. 

So we navigate across a slipstream 
mediascape littered by Knowledge 
M(Nuggets, warped by the sudden 
combustion of televised blipverts, and a 
media nee klaced either by state control, 
or the self-censorship of monopolistic 
corporate ownership. It is a strain just to 
keep track of all the bright and dark 
threads on this world skein, if we are to 
tie up some of the loose ends before the 
millenium. 

As 1989 segued into the nineties, it 
reached the point where there was a 
Country of the Week, or in the last 
weeks of the year, several countries had 
to vie for world attention: Panama 




This is the South African Defense Force monument on top 
of Klapper Kop overlooking Pretoria. The plaques bear 
the names of SADF dead. Photography was prohibited at 
this site. 

Proiissed World ff2S 



under siege by a U.S. surgical sledge 
hammer, while Romania fought to drive 
a stake through the heart of its "Vam- 
pirescu" leader, Nicolae Ceausescu 
("that Genius of the Carpathians"), after 
decades of hemophiliac Stalinist rule. 

Some day I will return to South 
Africa. For all its strangeness, it had a 
familiarity which was almost supernat- 
ural, and I suppose, highly personal. 
My hope in writing on this subject has 
been to show that the issues are not 
duochromatic, just black and white, and 
that resolution lies in the struggle to free 
captive hearts and minds with human 
decency, and new channels of commu- 
nication. 

As apartheid crumbles. South African 
society will be remade in the wake of 
protean change. This story has staying 
power, with special relevance to Ameri- 
cans. It represents one of the great 
unanswered questions of this century: 
how does a rich and powerful elite, with 
centuries of inbred intolerance, and a 
defiant isolationism, accept or adapt to 
parity with its neighbors? Can centuries 
of bloody-minded determination to call 
all the shots be reasoned into reality? 
For South African whites, the answer to 
these questions will decide their future 
in Africa. 

A new page is turning on South 
Africa. When Mandela steps through 
the pearly gates of Pretoria, and takes 
the nation s capitol with him, the people 
will finally come together after centuries 
of struggle. 

— by William Brummer 



1) Comedian Pietei-Dirk Uys, quoted in The 
New York Times, 30 J an. 1990 

2) Pakenham, Tfiomas. The Boer War. London: 
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979. 

3) Opperman, D.J. "Camera." 

4) Breytenbach, Breyten. The True Confessiom of 
an Albino Terrorist. New York: Farrar Straus 
Giroux, 1983. p. 52 

5) Crocker, Cfiester A. South Africa's defense 
posture: coping with vulnerahility . Beverly Hills: 
Published for the Center lor Strategic and 
International Studies, Georgetown University 
[by] Sage Publications, cl981. (Washington pa- 
pers; 84) (Sage policy paper) 

6) Grundy, Kenneth W. The Militarization oj 
South African Politics. Bloomington, IN : Indiana 
University Press, 1986. p. 58 

7) The New York Times, 12 Sept. 1989 

8) The New York Times, 28 Sept. 1985 

9) Frankel, Philip. Pretoria's Praetorians: civil- 
military relations in South Africa. Cambridge 
[Cambridgeshire]; New York: Cambridge Univ- 
ersity Press, 1984. p. 54 

10) Frankel. p. 96 

1 1 ) Congress of South African Trade Unions 

12) Alexander, Neville. "Language Policy and 
National Unity" in Language Projects' Review, v. 4:3 
(Nov. 1989). 



Page 1 7 




We toured the favelas (slums) built on stilts over the 
Amazon as it surged by Belem's million inhabitants at the 
river's cavernous mouth. Windmg down narrow passageways 
six feet above foul-smelling mud, garbage and river water, we 
were greeted with friendly curiosity. Among the wooden 
shacks and extreme poverty we found the occasional antennae 
and color TV* visible in the middle of a living room. 

We encountered in this stilt-town a 5-year-old's birthday 
party, with a 3-foot tall cake and 2 dozen formally clad young 
partiers waiting to cut loose under a plethora of Catholic 
icons. We were encouraged to shoot the scene with our video 
camera, during which everyone was very quiet and serious. 
Awed by the camera, a great deference fell over the party, 
making its recording a thoroughly empty effort. But its 
"emptiness" was my problem since their quiet wasn't less "real" 
than boisterously ignoring our presence would have been. 
Maybe their reaction was more interesting. . . 

Right around 3 p.m. the equatorial rains would fall in 
torrents. The city of Belem is full of mango trees planted over 
a century ago, and the street of the house in which we stayed 
was thick with Mangueiras. Every day, about 2:30 or so, young 
boys would begin appearing up and down the street, clad only 
in shorts. Sometimes they clustered under a tree and threw old 



shoes or rocks up in the hope of knocking down a ripe mango. 
Then the rains would start and within minutes dozens of 
mangos were pelting the area below. The boys, armed with 
emptied garbage bags that they'd rinsed out in the rushing 
curbside stream of dirty black water, scrambled to stuff their 
bags and shorts full of mangos. What a sight! Six and 
seven-year-old boys with 15 good sized mangos stuffed into 
their tiny shorts and clutched in their little arms, hobbling 
along trying to prevent them from falling and being snatched 
up by latecomers. 

Not too many cities have free food falling into the streets 
every day at 3 p.m.! But too many do share Brazil's 
astronomical rates of malnutrition and infant mortality, which 
plague its "developed" cities as much as the country's infamous 
northeast. Amazonians, over seven million in "urban" 
environments, typically live in squalid conditions. 

Throughout a bizarre trip on the mud-stricken Transama- 
zonian Highway, we were treated to the raucous presence of a 
small video brigade^ of Stalinist youth associated with the 

* Brazil has several national, privately-owned TV networks— the market 
is dominated by Brazil's own media giant, TV Globo, the pliant voice of 
authority through several military and civilian regimes. At any given time 
65% of Brazil's millions ol TVs are tuned to TV Globo. 



Page 18 



Processed World #25 



Communist Party ol Biazil. From iht- 
moment we boarded the bus they bom- 
barded us and the other passengers with 
pro-Albania chants, party songs, macho 
posturing, and even out-oi'-key Beatles 
tunes! They had all the qualities of a 
teenage clique out for a fun camping 
trip, but with the political rhetoric laid 
on thick. Occasionally we would over- 
hear one berating another about what 
Bukharins position was in 1926, or 
some equally vital historical point. Lat- 
er, at the Indian gathering we were all 
headed to in Altamira, one young man 
of this group turned out to be the son of 
an assassinated Communist city coun- 
cilman. He gave a speech that was 
notable for his 1968 Maoist militant 
oratorical style and the way his voice 
took on a gruff, barking sound. 
* * * 
"Journeys, those magic caskets full of 
dreamlike promises, will never again yield up 
their treasures untarnished . . . what else can 
the so-called escapism oj traveling do than 
confront us with the more unfortunate aspects 
of our history?— The first thing we see as we 
travel around the world is our own filth, 
thrown into the face of mankind. " 

— Claude Levi-Strauss, 
Tristes Tropiques, 1955 

Cannibalism proves to be an apt 
metaphor for how culture percolates 
from the center to the periphery. My 
partner, my child and I went to Brazil in 
part because it was a big, vibrant place, 
full of political drama, but also full of 
cultural dynamism and sensuality sorely 
lacking in our U.S. lives. But for the 
first month or so, wherever we went we 
were besieged by some variant of mid- 
80s' eurodisco or U.S. pop music. It was 
surprising, confusing, finally depress- 
ing. It wasn't until we went to Bahia and 
later to Fortaleza and Belem in the north 
that we got away from the banal, 
repetitive music of the center and found 
the rhythms and depth we'd been expect- 
ing. 

But what programming have we ab- 
sorbed to form these expectations? How 
do we know what it is we're looking for? 
Perhaps this is the reverse of the 
cannibalism promoted by U.S. culture's 
presence in other societies. We have a 
clear idea of what we want: the unfamil- 
iar but fun, the safe but thrilling 
encounter with the Other. Aren't our 
vacation fantasies someone else's job 
description? 

We went to a Rap/Funk show in Sao 
Paulo featuring Brazilian rappers. I 
assumed Brazilians would be able to get 
funky with the best of 'em but lo and 



behold, this was the stiffest and least 
funky Funk I'd ever heard (of course, I 
did grow up in Oakland, a veritable 
funk/rap capital). I absolutely detested 
this pale imitation of black U.S. music. 
It turned out that all musical genres are 
practiced in Brazil, including punk, rap, 
thrash, heavy metal, and all modern 
sounds, but why did it all sound so fake 
except the music that I knew beforehand 
to be "authentic" Brazilian? A punk 
band called the Titas actually sounds 
exactly like dozens of bands I used to 
pogo to in the late '70s, a sound I still 
enjoy. But the Titas are an exception 
since usually the cannibalized sounds 
didn't ring true. 



Every tourist destination has its "spe- 
cial" place where it is said to be really 
remote and beautiful, unspoiled but 
ready for a visit. Such a place is 
Trancoso, a somewhat developed coast- 
al village at the end of a 30-km sand 
road from the better known tourist 
mecca Porto Seguro on the southern 
Bahian coast. But this place, too, had 
been "cannibalized." We got there and 
found a town that consisted of a central 
square surrounded by little wooden 
shacks which masqueraded as restau- 
rants in the evenings. After dinner they 
passed around the honor of hosting the 
evening's hot lambada discoteque. In 
the surrounding area the streets were 
marked out and private plots housed 
either a home or a small hotel for the 
numerous Europeans and Argentinians 
and wealthy Brazilians who jammed the 
town during the magnificent January 
summer. 

The three of us found a place in an 
extremely muggy loft where we could 
stay above the dining/kitchen area for 
about $12 a night. It was owned by a 
35-ish wiry German who had married a 
Brazilian woman. He was gradually 
building small cabins throughout his 
land, and also rented hammocks to 
backpackers, fantasies of a thriving 
"Hippie Hilton" undoubtedly the carrot 
on the end of his stick. 

During the days we would walk two 
kilometers down to the fantastic beach 
and plant ourselves under a palm tree to 
provide a bit of shade against the 
blistering sunshine. Throughout the day 
vendors of every imaginable description 
made their way up and down the beach, 
often with wheelbarrows full of ice 
chests laden with beer, popsicles, cokes, 
etc., while local hippies sold handcrafts 
and small sandwiches. Ancient fisher- 
men offered coconuts from the back of 



their mules, hacking one open for you 
on the spot, pulling out a gleaming 
plastic straw and plunking it down into 
the sweet innards, for about 20 cents. 
The consumers of this cornucopia of 
beach treats were the wealthy tourists 
from around Brazil and the world. (In 
the evenings, Trancoso became some- 
thing of a free drug zone, with coke and 
pot openly sold in the main square.) 

At the end of the day, the beach was 
littered with hundreds of cans and 
bottles, coconut shells and plastic refuse. 
Human feces and toilet paper floated in 
the water just offshore, and could often 
be carefully stepped over on the beach, 
too. As our days in paradise rolled by, 
the ecological time bomb before our 
eyes, which we contributed to by our 
presence, ticked on inexorably. Tran- 
coso- as-Paradise can't last for more than 
another five or so years. No sewer 
system was under construction or even 
planned. Garbage collection? Who 
would do that? Where would they take 
it? Easier to chuck it down a nearby 
ravine once every few months, or burn 
it. And where else would one drain the 
primitive toilet systems but into the 
nearest running water? So what if it 
runs right into the beach that everyone 
comes thousands of miles to enjoy! 
Have a Caipirinhal (the ubiquitous na- 
tional drink — serious fire water!) 



Whatever your intentions or specific 
origins and attitudes at home in the 
U.S., when you arrive in a 3rd World 
country you are in the upper class by 
virtue of having traveled outside of your 
own country on vacation, clutching 
U.S. dollars. The presence of our then 
4-year-old daughter won instant friend- 
ship many times, as Brazilians love 
children, although the class differences 
were perhaps emphasized by our large, 
healthy blonde daughter. She was as big 
as 7 and 8 year old children in some of 
the neighborhoods we visited. On the 
other hand, her presence underlined our 
status as visible targets. 

People continually warned us to 
watch out for our child (implying that 
she might be kidnapped at any time!), 
not to wear watches or jewelry in public, 
and not to leave valuables in our hotel 
rooms or the hotel safes, either. We 
managed to avoid violent assaults. We 
never lost our luggage. But we did 
escape a couple of hairy situations. 

One night we had gone to an ocean- 
side neighborhood called Rio Vermelho 
in the city of Salvador to see a celebra- 
tion/film screening on the side of a 



Processed World #25 



Page 19 



church along the central north-south 
traffic route. It was sponsored by a local 
environmental group which had suc- 
cessfully contested the construction of~ a 
shopping mall on a nearby lot for over 3 
years and was declaring a partial vic- 
tory. They also demanded the cleaning 
and opening of the nearby beach to the 
public. The majority of the 40 or so 
attendees sitting in the parking lot for 
the free movies were homeless boys with 
their sweaters and scraps of cardl)oard 
— they were puzzled by the avant garde, 
surrealistic Brazilian films, but found a 
resonant tale in the story of a serial 
murderer caught after killing a dozen 
homeless boys in the interior. 

As we bussed home a couple oi hours 
later, our bus stopped in standstill 
traffic. Far ahead we could see a large 
crowd in the street. As it drew near, we 
could see the crowd was dancing around 
a large flatbed truck with a band playing 
on top— later these scenes became fa- 
miliar as the Trios Eletncos wound 
through the city's Carnaval-packed 
streets. As our bus slowly drew along- 
side the crowd dancing directly in front 
of the Trio, the dancing youth began 
using the bus as a drum. As their 
pounding reached a deafening crescen- 
do, suddenly the window adjacent to my 
partner Caitlin shattered, spraying bro- 
ken glass all over her and our daughter, 
opening dozens of superficial wounds. 
All the passengers leaped to the aisle in 
the middle of the bus, and there we 
stood for another 15 frightening minutes 
waiting for the danger to pass. There 
was no escape — outside the bus was the 
frenzied mob, inside we were sitting 
ducks. But nothing else happened and 
eventually we made it home. 

Another time, during the 3 day bank 
holiday imposed when the "New Cruza- 
do" was proclaimed in January 1989 
(only to be superceded in March 1990 
by the "New Cruzeiro"), we greedily 
pursued the best exchange rate we'd 
heard of yet from a guy in the street. We 
knew it was too high, but our anticipat- 
ed good fortune was quickly reversed 
when our money changers hustled us 
into a labyrinthian alley and snatched 
our $100 and just as quickly dashed 
away. Justice seemed to be served, even 
at the time, but it was galling to have 
been had so easily. 

Also, as "low-budget tourists" han- 
dling our relative wealth was work: going 
to the Cambista, paying bills everywhere, 
hiding our money, passports, video 
equipment, etc. The risk of a rip-off was 
an underlying concern during many 



davs of the vacation and often con- 
strained our "free time." 



I find it strangely ambiguous to be a 
traveling U.S. citizen. Since I am 
sharply critical of all U.S. politicians 
and government actions, I always em- 
phasize that I am only American by 
twist of fate, and don't identify with 
U.S. interests. In spite of such aliena- 
tion, I benefit from my status by the 
value of my money, my health, my 
ability to travel freely, and if things go 
wrong, the likelihood that at least I can 
purchase better treatment in jails, hospi- 
tals, or wherever I might end up. 

We sought out people involved in 
various social movements, trying to 
bridge the gap our advantages created. 
People were generally willing, even 
eager to explain their lives to us, which 
in turn gave us a sense of responsibility 
to share their stories when we returned 
home. 

In fact, some of our Brazilian friends 
.seemed to have great expectations of us, 
which we are finding difficult to live up 
to now that we are back home. One 
woman who lived on the edge of a favela 
(slum) in the Zona Sul of Sao Paulo was 
very excited to be interviewed by us on 
video and looked forward to receiving a 
tape to show her friends and colleagues. 
Unfortunately, we've been unable to 
contact her since we got home, and we 
can't tell why, whether it's the postal 
service there, here, or she moved, or we 
have the wrong address, or what. 



Language is a basic obstacle to every 
foreign odyssey. I've followed the same 
pattern with several languages (French, 
Spanish, Danish, and now Portugese): I 
become newspaper literate in about a 
month or so, and after 3 or 4 months I 
can understand a good 60-99% of what 
goes on around me, depending on 
accents and all that. But in no case have 
I mastered self-expression. To be hon- 
est, I've never come close! Somehow my 
language aptitude is acute up to the 
point of speech, then it balances talent 
with sheer ineptitude and neurosis. 

Experience itself conspires to make 
speaking a recurrent trauma. A typical 
case in point: one day, about a month 
into the journey, we were in Rio de 
Janeiro, it was late afternoon and we 
stopped in a small supermarket. Caitlin 
was fed up with doing all the talking (she 



is a wizard at adapting to new languag- 
es) and left me in line at the checkout 
stand to complete what should have 
been an utterly routine transaction. But 
what we didn't know and I was about to 
find out, was that you couldn't buy the 
bottles of beer on the shelf unless you 
brought with you already empty bottles 
in exchange. When the sales clerk tried 
to explain this to me, I failed to 
understand at all and fumbled for my 
ID, assuming she was asking me to 
prove I was old enough to buy alcohol. 
We weren't communicating! The line of 
people behind me was growing and 
discontent was becoming audible. I ran 
outside the store and yelled a block 
down to Caitlin to please come back and 
solve the problem, which she did, but 
what a discouragement! Just when I had 
started to feel some meager confidence 
that I could get along, too! 

At that moment, complete alienation 
is inescapable. I am surrounded by a 
society in which I cannot function, even 
rudimentarily. Is this the final revenge 
of superficial experience, of traipsing in 
for a "little looksee" without getting my 
hands dirty, my ideas too compromised, 
inevitably remaining an observer? 

When I left for Brazil I thought my 
trip would be something more than 
merely finding a nice beach to lay on, or 
a new body to exchange fluids with — 
this trip was different... or, as I thought 
when I had horrible moments of lost 
confusion, was it? 

We pursued encounters and discus- 
sion with like-minded political activists, 
and tried to consolidate personal links 
across artificial and repressive national 
boundaries. To some extent we pulled 
that off. But the assumptions that fueled 
us were often thrown into doubt along 
the way. 

For example, we found ourselves 
trying to interpret activists from Brazil's 
Green Party (PV) within the framework 
of U.S. ecological politics. It was hard 
not to compare their ideas to the 
then-current split between social- and 
deep-ecologists at home, even though 
that division wasn't particularly import- 
ant to the Brazilian political scene. In 
fact, Alfredo Sirkis, the Green Party city 
councilman from Rio de Janeiro, 
claimed that his party encompassed both 
tendencies quite peacefully. 

He went on to comment on the 
divergent factions in U.S. eco-politics: 
On the New England-based social eco- 
logists: "I told them they were 'Leninist 
-Anarchists,' They had saved the worst 
things about Leninism and thrown away 



Page 20 



Processed World #25 



the good things." On the California- 
based deep ecologists: "They were living 
on a different planet, called California, 
and had no link with the rest of 
humanity, not even the rest of humanity 
living in the U.S." 

Later we found other ecologists who 
were careful to keep their distance from 
the PV. Trying to understand the Green 
Party as a variation of a Greenpeace or 
an anti- nuclear alliance only moved us 
further from understanding what an 
ecological political party means in the 
Brazilian context. Given their marginal 
status after the recent national elections, 
and their close relationship to the 
Workers' Party, it's even less clear what 
they represent as an independent politi- 
cal party. 

On the other hand, Brazil doesn't 
exist in a vacuum and the rise of 
ecological political groups there is di- 
rectly related to and influenced by the 
growth of similar movements in Europe 
and the U.S. So drawing such connec- 
tions is inevitable, and not totally with- 
out foundation, even if it tends to 
demote the specifically Brazilian context 
in which they exist. 

Similarly, our encounters with the 
Workers Party (PT) was invariably 
framed by our own experiences and 
philosophical predispositions in "ultra- 
left" libertarian politics in our lives at 
home. Should we interpret the PT as a 
classical social-democratic formation? 
As a Leninist party? As a grand coali- 
tion of left forces in Brazil? Was the 
electoral strategy as bankrupt as it is in 
the U.S.? Or should all these categories 
be thrown out in light of the cataclysmic 
changes in the East bloc, and because 
the PT grew out of highly democratic 
mass movements with roots in many 
different Brazilian communities? 

And how to interpret the Catholic 
Church, which is split in half in Brazil 
between the traditional oligarchy- 
supporting right wing bishops and the 
broad movement of base communities 
organized by the overtly left-wing Lib- 
eration Theologists? I have been hostile 
toward Catholicism for as long as I've 
known much about it, but again and 
again people we met in urban slums, in 
rural areas, in different movements, 
explained how they had been drawn in 
by a young priest, often Italian or 
Spanish. 

The current leader of the PTs city 
council "bancada" (their group of seats) 
in Sao Paulo, Joao Castro de Alves, 
described to us how he had been a 
simple metalworker and a fanatic sports 




fan in the late '70s when he was invited 
to a "Pastoral Operaria" meeting 
(Christian workers). When a major 
strike wave engulfed the industrial area 
around Sao Paulo in 1979, he found 
himself deeply involved, and soon he 
was fired. His involvement with the 
Christian worker group provided the 
network of social support that allowed 
he and his family to survive the next 
couple of years of unemployment (there 
are no unemployment benefits to speak 
of in Brazil). And it also gave him the 
possibility to get involved with the 
founding of the Workers Party in 1980, 
which ultimately led him to his current 
position. 



I would like to go back and live in 
Brazil someday, perhaps for a year or 
two. The more time has passed since I 
was there, the more I have come to 
realize how difficult it is to truly grasp 
another society's reality. My own cul- 
tural baggage was so heavy, my predis- 
positions, responsibilities, and faculties 
so infiuenced my experience that it's 
almost problematic to distinguish the 
"facts" or the "truth" about Brazil as I 
present them, from my own life experi- 
ence as passed through a 4-month prism 
of Brazil. 

. . . "/ have only two possibilitiei: either I 
can be like some traveler of the olden days, who 
was Jaced with a stupendous spectacle, all, or 
almost all, oj which eluded him, or worse still, 
filled him with scorn and disgust; or I can be a 



modern traveler, chasing after the vestiges of a 
vanished reality. I lose on both counts, and 
more seriously than may at first appear, for, 
while I complain of being able to glimpse no 
more than the shadow of the past, I may be 
insensitive to reality as it is taking shape at this 
very moment, since I have not reached the stage 
of development at which I would be capable of 
perceiving it. A few hundred years hence, in 
this same place, another traveler, as despairing 
as myself, will mourn the disappearance of 
what I might have seen, but failed to see. I am 
subject to a double infirmity: all that I perceive 
offends me, and I constantly reproach myself 
for not seeing as much as I should. " 

— Claude Levi-Strauss, 

Tristes Tropiques, 1955 

Me, too! 

On the other hand, in spite of these 
rather negative conclusions about the 
possibilities of truly connecting to an- 
other culture, going to Brazil was a 
fantastic experience. The human condi- 
tion is sufficiently universal that we 
made personal friendships that may last 
for years. The communication and 
cross-pollination that accompanies such 
a visit has an inestimable value for our 
own lives, but also, modestly, for the 
future of humanity. We can be sure that 
we don't know how sweeping, global 
social change will happen. The grains of 
sand that our travels contribute to the 
dunes of world history may seem neces- 
sarily small and insignificant, but we'll 
never know what our exchanges finally 
lead to until many years from now. 
Everything starts somewhere! 

— Chris Carlsson 



Processed World #2'; 



Page 2 1 



BILLBOARD LIBERATION FRONT 



Pranks R Us 

Everything is at the mercy of the 
pranlfster. The prankster operates in a 
deliberately grey area where art, politics, 
and performance are in too rare alliance. 
Instead of waging an all-out assault on the 
Castle, the prankster slips through the 
gates wearing a fool's outfit, or nonde- 
script duds, like the new "King of Absur- 
distan, " Vaclav Havel, or that Delta Force 
of insurgent advertising, the Billboard Lib- 
eration Front. 

In issue §24, the BLF's distinguished 
corporate history was briefly described- 
one of the highlights being their PAVE 
ALASKA campaign. This time we present 
their How-to-do-it manual for liberating 
billboards from the Demand Economy of 
the "free market" system. Others recount 
missions possible for the serious, graphic 
business at hand— to reveal the terror of 
our ways here in the subliminal city. 

Tension, dissension, and apprehen- 
sion have begun/ 

The prankster undermines confidence 
and security in everyday belief systems, 
sabotages the official reality by moving 
objects, letters, words, using chemicals, 
solvents, adhesives to manipulate media in 
such a way as to bring into sharp relief the 
true agenda hidden between the lines, the 
clenched fists of closed captioned com- 
mentary for the being-impaired. TV im- 
plodes another logic bomb behind the 
eyes, propaganda floods the system— the 
newspaper's ink smile fades on the time- 
shifting crowd which now wavers at the 
why of it all. 

Freedom is terror 

said Sartre. The prankster's actions may 
be viewed as an aesthetic experience, or a 
borderline mock terrorist attack. Last 
spring saw a rash of prank terrorism here in 
the Bay Area. 

In May, a few dozen seemingly authentic 



high explosive devices appeared around 
San Francisco, requiring the attention of 
police bomb squad technicians. The Great 
Highway was temporarily closed until puz- 
zled authorities determined that these half 
pound packages of TNT were in fact filled 
with plaster of Paris. 

Subsequent investigation revealed that 
these fake bombs were removed from the 
Survival Research Laboratories show Illu- 
sions of Shameless Abundance De- 
generating into an Uninterrupted Se- 
quence of Hostile Encounters, where 
they were supposed to have been show- 
ered on the audience. The show came to a 
premature end when the SRL stage crew 
exhausted their last aerosol breath of fire 
retardant, and a stack of burning pianos 
came crashing down, disabling one of the 
lead performers, a motorized gila monster. 
Through another malfunction, the bomb 
canisters were scattered over an empty 
part of the parking lot, but were quickly 
snapped up by exiting members of the 
audience, pranksters all, who took the 
performance from beneath the freeway 
into the streets and beyond. 

A few weeks later, the OIlie North 
roadshow rolled into town. The gig was at 
the Circle Star Theater, and a shredding 
party was assembled the night before by 
the San Francisco Cacophony Society. 
Although security was tight, their revelry 
and champagne mirth under police surveil- 
lance, they enjoyed themselves to the max, 
not with a bang, but a *queep * 

The next day, bomb squad technicians 
removed suspicious-looking devices glued 
to the side of the Circle Star Theater. 
Circuit boards that turned out to be circuit 
boards attached to (and at) no charge! 

Only Santa Claus can save you from 
poverty! 

Are these two unrelated incendiary 
hoaxes the same as crying "Theater!" in a 
crowded fire? Do they reflect a new 
militance in art that further breaks down 
walls, from Berlin to those morgues of 



^Hlk^l ••»«; 




..J. 



culture, museums?! 

In 1980, Pink Floyd posed a question 
that epitomized the post-Freudian, Cold 
War culture: Mother should I build a 
wall? On the eve of the nineties, the walls 
came down, and it wasn't Sampson 
straining at the pillars of community, but 
the Davids with their slingshot messages, 
barbs of truth, who brought down the 
has-been Goliaths of Stasi, Husak, Zo- 
mos, and with a few bullets, much blood, 
and the Army, Securitate. 

In Poland, groups like "those crazies in 
Gdansk, " the Movement for an Alternative 
Society, espouse a philosophy which can 
be summed up as "it is forbidden to 
forbid. " Actions or happenings by the 
Orange Alternative, Freedom and Peace, 
and other activist organizations aimed "to 
treat the political system as a work of art. " 
They called it Socialist Surrealism, and 
used it to create a street culture so 
corrosive to the pieties of statist society, 
that the overthrow of same assumed an 
ironic inevitability. 

How can even the most determined-to- 
conform citizen keep a straight face when 
confronted by thousands of people engag- 
ing in open-air dada, chanting Stalinist 
hymns at the monkey house of a zoo, or 
staging mock urban warfare with buckets 
of water, shouting "Freedom and water!" 
Tapes of ousted Communist leader Ladi- 
slav Adamec addressing a Party Congress 
have for months played in Civic Forum 
video galleries and cafes across Czecho- 
slovakia, convulsing people as the most 
riotous comedy in years. 

The political machine is in an advanced 
state of decay. Is this the long awaited 
withering away of the state? It has become 
such a self-satirizing system that people 
brave water cannons and purple dye to jeer 
at it in the streets. When any innocent 
bystander can get caught up and become 
part of the picture, vulnerable to art attack, 
the political volatility and possibilities for 
razing consciousness are primed and ready 
to go. 

The spraycan is a start— it may have 
eaten away one side of the Wall, though it 
took the flight of refugees voting with their 
feet to give the final blow. 

Who says "it ain't right to write"? Write 
on! 

—Art Tinn itus 

The Billboard Liberation Front has been 
successfully improving outdoor advertising 
since 1977. 

We hope you find the following primer 
useful and comprehensive. We have detail- 
ed methods for alterations ranging from 
the smaller, easily accessible boards, to the 
massive, more difficult ones on freeways. 

In most instances, it should not be 



Page 22 



Processed World #25 



MANUAL 

necessary to use the elaborate — even ob- 
sessive precautions that the BLF has 
resorted to for an individual or group to get 
their message across. A can of spray paint, 
a blithe spirit, and a balmy night are all you 
really need. 

There are many different reasons for 
wishing to alter or in other ways improve 
an existing advertisement. In this primer 
we avoid ideology and stick to practical 
information only. 



1) Choosing A Board 

Once you have identified a billboard 
message you wish to improve, you may 
want to see if there are multiple locations 
with the same advertisement. You should 
determine which ones give your message 
optimum visibility. A board on the central 
freeway will obviously give you more 
exposure than one on an obscure side 
street. You must then weigh the location/ 
visibility factor with other crucial variables 
such as physical accessibility, potential 
escape routes, volume of foot and vehicu- 
lar traffic during optimum alteration hours, 
etc. 

In choosing a board, keep in mind that 
the most effective alterations are often the 
simplest. If you can totally change the 
meaning of an advert by changing one or 
two letters, you'll save a lot of time and 
trouble. Some ads lend themselves to 
parody by the inclusion of a small image or 
symbol in the appropriate place (a skull, 
radiation symbol, happy face, swastika, 
vibrator, etc.). On other boards, the addi 
tion of a cartoon "thought bubble" or a 
"speech balloon" for one of the characters 
might be all that is needed. 

2) Preparation 
aj Accessibility 

How do you get up on the board? Will 
you need your own ladder to reach the 
bottom of the board's ladder? Can you 
climb the support structure? Is the board 
on a building rooftop, and if so, can it be 
reached from within the building, from a 
fire escape, or perhaps from an adjoining 
building? If you need ladders to work the 
board, occasionally they may be found on 
platforms on or behind the board, or on 
adjacent boards or rooftops. 

b) Practicality 

How big are the letters and/or images 
you would like to change? How close to 
the platform at the bottom of the board is 
your work area? 

On larger boards you can rig from above 
and hang over the face to reach points that 
are too high to reach from below. We don't 
recommend this method unless you have 
some climbing and rigging experience. 
When hanging in one position your work 
area in very limited laterally. Your ability to 
leave the scene quickly diminishes propor- 




tionately to how convoluted your position 
has become. Placing huge words or im- 
ages is much more difficult. 

c) Security 

After choosing your board, be sure to 
inspect it during day and night. Take note 
of all activities in the area. Who is about at 
2:00 a.m.? How visible is your work area, 
both in front of and behind the board? How 
visible will you be while scaling the support 
structure? Keep in mind you will make 
noise; are there any apartment or office 
windows nearby? Is anyone home? Walk 
lightly if you're on a rooftop; who knows 
who you're walking over. 

What is the visibility to passing cars on 
surface streets and freeways? What can 
you see from your work position on the 
board? Even though it is very difficult to 
see a figure on a dark board at night, it is 
not impossible. Any point you have line of 
sight vision with is a point you can be seen 
from. 

How close is your board to the nearest 



police station or Highway Patrol headquar- 
ters? What is their patrol pattern in the 
area? Average response time to Joe Citi- 
zen's call? You can get an idea by staking 
out the area and observing. Is it quiet at 
night or is there a lot of foot traffic? When 
the bars let out, will this provide cover — 
i.e. drunks keeping the cops busy, or will it 
increase the likelihood of detection by 
passersby? Do they care? If you are 
definitely spotted, it may pay to have your 
ground people check them out rather than 
just hoping they don't call the cops. Do not 
let them connect you with a vehicle. Have 
your ground person(s) pretend to be 
chance passersby and find out what the 
observer thinks. We've been spotted at 
work a number of times and most people 
were amused. You'll find that most people, 
including officials, don't look up unless 
given a reason to do so. 

Go up on the board prior to your hit. Get 
a feel for being there and moving around 
on the structure at night. Bring a camera 



Aim High 



Once upon a time there were 5 tree 
planters from a cooperative who, having 
worked very hard, took a vacation in 
Seattle. They saw a billboard which had a 
very phallic Jet aircraft torqueing across the 
sign with the caption "Aim High. " So they 
did. 

People went onto the board, measured 
and got color samples. They pasted red 
painted letters onto white butcher paper, 
got squeegees and other gear, and one 
evening rush hour they posted a person at 
one end of the freeway bridge next to the 
board, and another near an on-ramp in the 
opposite direction; all armed with walkie- 
talkies. The others wheat-pasfed the paper 
onto the sign. 

Most observers were amused; the others 
were much more emphatic, even hostile. 
One father-son team got out and demand- 
ed that the crew "COME DOWN HERE 
RIGHT NOW!!!" The young vandals ex- 
plained that they just had a job to do and 
ignored these "Love it or Leave It" types. 



The traffic flow soon compelled the all- 
american duo to leave; indeed, it was so 
heavy that even with immediate warning 
— had cellular phones been invented — 
the cops would have taken minutes to 
arrive. 

Within 15 minutes the sign was "cor- 
rected" and our heroes departed, leaving 
their spattered overalls and equipment in a 
friend's boat, which was anchored in one 
of the city's canals. To celebrate they 
sought out a local bar, whose tinted 
windows turned out to have a command- 
ing view of the scene of the crime. As they 
entered it was clear that virtually everyone 
had watched them; they were fingered . . . 
and the room broke into cheers. 

They had relaxed for perhaps 20 minutes 
when the police arrived like gangbusters, 
looking for people to assist them in their 
inquiries. As nobody had seen a thing, the 
cops left. 

By noon the board had been recovered 
with the same sign. It looked great . . . 
until the next winter rain, when the added 
letters ghosted through the wet paper: 
next to "Aim High" were the words "Blow 
Up The Pentagon!" 



Processed World #25 



Page 2 J 



—a good cover for doing anything you're 
not supposed to: "Gee, officer, I'm a night 
photographer, and there's a great shot of 
the Bay Bridge from up there ..." 

Check out your escape routes. Can you 
cross over rooftops and leave by a fire 
escape across the block? etc. etc. 
d) Illumination 

Most boards are brightly lighted by 
floodlights of some type. Most large 
boards are shut off some time between 
11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. by a time clock 
control somewhere on or near the board. 
Smaller boards frequently are controlled by 
photo-electric cells or conventional time- 
clocks, also somewhere on the board. If 
you find the photo-electric cell, you can 
turn the lights on the board off by taping a 
small flashlight directly into the cell's 
"eye." This fools the unit into thinking it is 
sunrise — the time the light are supposed to 
turn off. 

As noted, most larger boards are con- 
trolled by time-clocks. These can be found 
in the control panels at the base of the 
supports structure and/or behind the ac- 
tual board itself. These panels are often 
locked (particularly those at the structure's 
base). Unless you are familiar with ener- 
gized electrical circuitry and devices of this 
type we caution you to wait until the clock 
shuts itself off at midnight or so. Many of 
these boards run 277V or 220 volts, and 
could cook you well-done. 
3) Graphic Layout: 

Lettering & Image Design 
a) Scale 

If you are changing only a small area 
(one letter, a small symbol, etc.) you 
probably do not need to go to any 
elaborate lengths to match or design your 
"overlay" (we'll use this term to describe 
the finished image/lettering you'll be ap- 
plying to the board). Just take actual 




Kant. 

'he choice is ssiWj. 



measurements or tracings directly off the 
board. 

If, however, you intend to create over- 
lays of great size and/or number of letters 
and you want the finished image to look as 
much as possible like the advertisers them- 
selves had made it, you should plan on 
more elaborate preparation. 

Find a position roughly level with the 
board and in direct line with it looking 
square on (200 to 1000 or so feet away). 
Photograph the board from this position 
and make a tracing from a large print of 
this photo. Using measurements you have 
taken on the board (height, width, letter 
height, etc.), you can create a scale 
drawing of your intended alteration. From 
this, it is possible to determine how large 
your overlays will need to be and what 
spacing will be required between letters. 

b) Color Match 

There are two basic ways to match the 
background and/or colors of the lettering 
or image area. 

1) On painted or paper boards you can 
usually carve a small (1" x 1") sample 
directly off the board. This does not always 
work on older painted boards which have 
many thick layers of paint. 




^CHEVRON 



We're With You ALL The Way! 



Page 24 



2) Most large paint stores carry small 
book paint samplers. It is possible to get a 
pretty close match from these samplers. 
We suggest sticking to solid colors and 
relatively simple designs for the maximum 
visual impact. 

c) Letter Style 
If you wish to match a letter style 

exactly, pick up a book of different letter 
types from a graphic arts supply. Use this 
in conjunction with tracings of existing 
letters to create the complete range of 
lettering needed for your alteration. You 
can convincingly fake letters that aren't on 
the board by finding a closely matching 
letter style in the book and using tracings 
of existing letters as a guide for drawing 
the new letters. 

d) Application 
We recommend not using overlays 

much larger than 4'x3'. If your message is 
larger, you should section it and butt the 
sections together for the finished image. It 
gets very windy on boards and large 
paste-overs are difficult to apply. Some 
nights there is condensation on the boards, 
and the areas to be covered need to be 
wiped down. Use heavy pattern paper for 
overlays and gloss lacquer paint. The 
lacquer paint suffuses the paper, making it 
super tough, water resistant and difficult 
to tear. For making overlays, roller coat the 
background and spray paint the lettering 
through cardboard cut-out templates of 
the letters. For extremely large images or 
panels, use large pieces of painted canvas. 
The canvas should be fairly heavy to avoid 
being ripped to shreds by the winds that 
buffet most billboards. Glue and staple ( 
spanner 1"x4" boards the entire horizontal 
length and bottom line of the canvas. The 
canvas will then roll up like a carpet for 
transportation and can be unrolled over the 
top of the board and lowered into place by 
ropes. 

You can either tie the four corners and 
middle (top and bottom) very securely, or, 
if you can access the face of the board 
either by ladder or rope, attach the panel 
by screwing the 1"x4" spanners to the 
board behind. A good battery powered drill 
is needed for this. We recommend hex 
head "Tek" sheet metal screws, #8 or #10 
size. Use a hex head driver bit for your drill. 

GRAPHIC:-' 
Processed World #2? 




These screws work well on either wood 
backboards or sheet metal. 

To level overlay panels on the board, 
measure up from the bottom (or down 
from the top) of the board to bottom line of 
[where it needs to be in order to cover the 
existing copy. Make small marks at the 
outermost left and right-hand points. Using 
a chalk snap line with two people, snap a 
horizontal line between these two points. 
This line is your marker for placing your 
overlay(s). 

Although there are many types of adhe- 
sive which could be used, we recommend 



rubber cement. Rubber cement is easily 
removable (but if properly applied will stay 
up indefinitely) and does not damage or 
permanently mark the board's surface. 
This becomes crucial if, after your appre- 
hension, the authorities and property own- 
ers start assessing money lost due to 
property damage. 

Application of rubber cement on large 
overlays is tricky. You need to evenly coat 
both the back-side of the paste-over and 
the surface of the board that is to be 
covered. Allow 1—2 minutes drying time 
before applying the paper to the board. 



To apply the cement use full sized (10") 
house paint rollers and a 5 gallon plastic 
bucket. Have one person coat the back of 
the paste-overs while another coats the 
board's surface. 

Both people will be needed to affix the 
coated paste-over to the finished board 
surface. 

4) The Hit 

Once you've completed all the prepara- 
tion and are ready for the actual hit, there 
are many things which can be done to 
minimize the risk of apprehension. 

a) Personnel 

Have the smallest number of people 
possible on the board. Three is about 
optimum; two for the actual work, and one 
lookout/communications person. You will 
probably require additional spotting teams 
on the ground (see below). 

bl Communications 

For work on larger boards where you will 
be exposed for great lengths of time, we 
recommend hand-held communication de- 
vices (CB units or FM band walkie-talkies) 
if you have access to them. 

Have one or two cars positioned at 
crucial intersections within sight of the 
board. The ground unit(s) should moni 
tor oncoming traffic and maintain 
radio contact with the lookout on 
the board. (Note: do not use the pop- 
ular CB or FM channels; there are many 
others to choose from. A verbal code is 



We Also Do Boards 




Our story begins long, long ago . . . even 
the statute of limitations has run out . . . 

I've never been at my best at 3:30 in the 
morning; being acutely nervous doesn't 
help the experience. In the predawn dark- 
ness our voices are muffled as we wake 
and drink some coffee, some alcohol: 
Slivovitz. We leave silently, carrying anon- 
ymous black knapsacks, dressed in dark 
colors, wearing felony shoes (sneakers), 
get into our vehicles and depart. 

At the prearranged area we park out of 
sight of each other, retrieve our sacks and 
bundles (rolls of paper, painting rollers with 
long handles, what are those — mops.^J 
and walk calmly to the board. It's one 
we've hit before so we know access and 
visibility. Hopefully the watch teams are in 
place in each direction. We won't know 
until we all get home — or we are warned 
of an approaching cop by a blinking 
flashlight. 

''he board is low, so one person will 
w irk on the ground. The nimblest climbs 
uf^ first, then the heaviest. Mops are 
pci.;sed up, a bucket appears, and plastic 
bottles (here now, what's this? starch.^j are 
emptied. On the ground the rolls are 
unfurled and wetted lightly with a mop, 
while above another wets the paper of the 
billboard the same way. The awkward 
sheet is handed up, maneuvered into 
?ela Bocage 

Processed W<irU) #25 



position, pressed down, then rolled firmly. 
The process is repeated for another large 
piece, then for two small ones. 

We are interrupted by happy cries from 
the street — skateboarders! One of them 
calls his friend over - unable to believe his 
eyes. His friend misses us at first, then 
focuses. They ask what we're doing, and I 
tersely explain "We're correcting this bill- 
board. " They watch for a minute before 
heading down University Ave. We rapidly 
finish our work and collect our tools. The 
ground person has already vanished 
around the corner when we dismount and 
walk away calmly, pausing for a moment 
to admire our handiwork. A sign which 
used to advertise a condominium village in 
Richmond with the slogan "Once a Great 
Notion I Now a Great Life" now reads 
"Once a Great Nation I Now a Great 
Li e. " A banner with 20 inch letters 
reading "US Out of North America" co- 
vers the real advertiser's name. (Let us not 
get into a debate about whether it has ever 
been all that great; we went for the 
cuteness. ) 

We corrected about a dozen boards in 
about a year. We were inspired by another 
group in Berkeley which was altering 
Selective Service registration boards ("It's 
Quick / It's Easy I It's the Law I Men 
turning 18 must register at the Post 



Office"). They had substituted — perfectly 
— the word "Deadly" for "the Law. " Our 
first attempt was not as polished: we 
replaced the third line with ours, which 
read "It's a Trap for Assholes. " We 
specialized in these signs, our alterations 
including "It's the Pig's Law" and "Men 
turning 18 must register at the morgue. " 
We also hit other targets of opportunity. 

We used rolls of colored artist's paper 
from various stores; originally we tried 
spray-painting but gave it up as too much 
work and too expensive. We made letters 
with the appropriate color of paper and 
applied them with white glue. The actual 
application to the board was done with 
ordinary laundry starch. It only works on 
paper or cardboard signs, but it is cheap 
and easy to obtain. 

We regarded this as training for more 
adventurous endeavors. We had read 
"Traces" — a manual useful for those who 
perform actions which they do not want to 
be caught doing — emphasizing the use of 
untraceable, ordinary items, and lots of 
caution about pieces of the perpetrator 
remaining on the crime-scene, and vice- 
versa. ) 

We were indifferent to the ease of 
removal — we figured that the workers 
who did so would be paid anyway. One 
afternoon I saw a worker replacing an SS 
board that we had hit; we worked furious- 
ly, made calls, assembled the team, and 

continued on next page 
Page 2S 




a good idea since others do have access to 
the channels you will be using.) 

It is crucial that your ground crew do not 
lounge around outside their vehicle(s) or in 
any other way make it obvious that they 
are hanging around a likely desolate area 
late at night for no apparent reason. A 
passing patrol car will notice them much 
sooner than they would ever notice you on 
the board. Keep a low profile. 

c) Escape 

If you've done your homework, you'll 
know the terrain surrounding the board 
quite well. In the event of detection, 
prepare a number of alternate routes out of 



the area, and a rendezvous point with the 
ground support crew. If a patrol is ap- 
proaching and you are in a difficult spot for 
quickly ditching and hiding (hanging on a 
rope in the middle of the board, for 
instance), it may be better simply to stay 
still until they pass. Movement is more 
likely to catch the casual eye. Once on the 
ground, if pursuit is imminent, hiding may 
be the safest bet. If you've covered the 
terrain carefully, you'll be aware of any 
good hiding spots. Keep in mind that if the 
police do a thorough search (doubtful, but 
not impossible), they will use high- 
powered spot lights and flashlights on foot. 
Stashed clothing in your hiding spot may 



prove useful. A business suit, perhaps, or 
rumpled and vomit encrusted leisure wear. 
Be creative. 

5) Daytime Hits 

We don't recommend this method for 
most high boards on or near freeways and 
major roads. It works well for doing smaller 
boards lower to the ground where the 
alteration is relatively quick and simple. If 
you do choose to work in the light, wear 
coveralls (company name on the back?), 
painters' hats, and work quickly. Keep an 
eye out for parked or passing vehicles 
bearing the billboard company or advertis- 
er's name. Each board has the company 
emblem bottom center on it. If you're on a 
Sleaze Co. board and a Sleaze Co. truck 
pulls up, you're probably in trouble. It is 
unlikely that the workers will try to physi- 
cally detain you (try bribery, if necessary), 
but they will probably call the cops. 

POSTSCRIPT 

If anyone reading this primer finds it of 
any use in their own advertising endeavors, 
we at the BLF will consider it successful. 

We believe roadside advertising en- 
hancement is a pastime more individuals 
should engage in. It's not that difficult to 
do smaller, low-to-the-ground boards. A 
quick hit-and-run on such a board will not 
require all of the elaborate preparations 
and precautions we have detailed. 

The more "real" messages we have on 
the freeways and streets, the better. 

-R.O. Thornhill 
BLF Education Officer 



had a newer — better — version up by 4:00 
the next morning. Fast service! 

We never went onto a board in advance; 
a certain feeling that it wasn't all that 
necessary and that it exposed you unduly. 
In fact, some LAGgards (Livermore Action 
Group — an anti-nuke group) were caught 
measuring on a board and charged with 
trespassing. Needless to say, they also 
became some of the "usual suspects" for 
any billboard operations in the area. We 
worked with photos and visual inspections 
on foot, as we were mostly hitting small 
boards in urban areas. Freeways are a 
different matter. 

Most of our work was "corrections" and 
small alterations. We learned the hard way 
that what the BLF says about small pieces 
of paper is not just a good idea; it's a law of 
nature. We only tried to take over a whole 
board once. A dozen of us were involved 
— tremendous racket, lots of work, big 
failure. If we had scouted first we would 
have known that this beast was enameled 
metal. Our staple-guns and starch were 
ineffectual. At least we got the size right. 
They closed off the access after our 
attempt. Ah well. Wish we'd had the BLF's 
manual then. 

Unwilling to limit ourselves to existing 
"authorized" locations, we also hung ban- 
ners—large ones. Both were initiated by 
others; we merely provided "technical 



assistance. " One, strung across the last 
overpass before the toll plazas on the 
SF-Oakland Bay Bridge, was in honor of 
the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Imitating a 
movie marquee it read "LEBANON — 
Featuring: A Casket of Thousands / A US- 
Israel Production." It went up at 6:30 a.m.; 
CalTrans crews took this cotton sheet Et 
rope creation down in less than an hour, 
but not before countless people saw it. The 
other was done in support of a LAG block- 
ade, and was a light paper/ balsa sign that 
read simply "US Navy Supports the Liver- 
more Blockade. " Intrepid climbers were 
dropped off on Treasure Island (a US Navy 
Et Coast Guard property ) at about 6:15 a.m. 
They climbed up and hung the banner 
above the tunnel for west-bound traffic. 
We had several cars, each making a quick 
automotive stop — with excuses ready — 
on the lower deck (east bound! periodically 
until the party was retrieved (or captured). 
The sign was quickly removed, but at least 
one AM radio DJ reported it, wondering 
idly if the Navy knew about it. A caution- 
ary note here — we were VERY careful 
about these — if your sign comes down on 
traffic it will be very counterproductive. 
Make sure the sign can be removed safely. 

You want to be careful with stencils; one 
of us applied anti-nuke slogans to the 
labels of cans going to a local "national 



security" company. His boss called him in 
and told him that he had just finished 
reassuring the place's head of security that 
the person who had done it was fired (the 
FBI proved that the paint was applied 
before the labels were put on the cans). 
Fortunately for him, his boss had lied. 

So, what's the point? Get out there and 
have fun; spread the good word! Some- 
times it's disheartening — you'll find that 
lots of people never look at billboards, and 
some people who do don't see what it 
really says. But such methods represent 
alternate communications that subvert 
commercial and social space. 

Hope to see your writing on the wall, real 
soon, everywhere! 

And remember — Be careful; Be funny; 
Be Audacious! 

— Unos de Nosotros 





Page 26 



Processed World #25 



MICROFICTIONS 

An Ancient Dilemma 

Jim slipped on his son's toy slime and 
passed through a time portal. When he 
regained his balance, he was standing on the 
deck, sailing a barge through the strait of 
ancient Messina, approaching Scylla and 
Charybdis. 

"Captain," said the mate, "what now? 
Either we're dinner ior the beast or we 
perish in the maelstrom!" 

Thoughts of flesh tearing, bones crush- 
ing, and death by choking. "Don't know," 
replied Jim. "Maybe there's a third option. 
Let's drop anchor! Now when I say three, 
everybody chortle!" They stopped the ship 
and guffawed at the frustrated monsters 
until the Age of Mythology passed. 

Friday, July 3, 4:45 

Jim ran into Cheryl on the company 
elevator. When she mentioned the weather, 
he thought, should I bring up global 
warming? Start a meaningful discourse? 
Before he could speak, the elevator got stuck 
near the sixteenth floor. When they tried 
dialing for help, the elevator jeered, "Fools, 
that won't work. I am not letting you out. So 
give up." 

Said Jim, "You can't hold us, we've got 
work to do!" 

"Pah!" laughed the elevator, "Your new 
job is amusing me." 

"C'mon," said Cheryl, "It's a three-day 
weekend!" 

"Don't make me laugh. I've held people 
through Chrislmas. " 

Jim looked into Cheryl's sassy eyes, and 
for the first time noticed they were curb- 
stone gray. "What the hell," he said. "It's 90 
outside, cool as a supermarket here. Let's 
get comfortable at company expense." Soon 
as they lay down on the plush carpet, the 
doors opened. 




Uncertifiable 

Depressed by recent unexplained events, Jim went to a psychiatrist. He told her 
about the time subluxations, the evil elevator, and the Famous Dead, but added that 
he'd always managed to cope. 

"These may be delusions," she said. She asked him the color of his nightmares, the 
color of his office walls. He couldn't say. Then she asked him if there were round 
stamps, magenta fruits, or rubber houses and if not, why not. He gave terse replies. 

After a long and expensive session, she said she'd let him know her diagnosis. The 
next day she called. "Mr. Walker, good news! I've detected no delusions in your 
psychological profile, none whatsoever. Feel better now?" 

"Yes," he said. "Yes, thank you." As soon as he hung up, she appeared on his 
computer screen in pixilated color. Before he could turn it off, she stepped out. 

— Peter Bates 



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Processed World #25 



Page 27 




"^ 'jrJ3> .epresentative H.L. 

) \ "Buzz" Ephus, D- Death 
Valley, sipped on his beer, settled 
into his armchair, and fixedhis gaze 
on the' talking head of President Quayle. 
Quayle held up a large bag of "ice," pointed 
to it, and droned on about his War on 
Drugs without even cracking a smile. Ephus 
whistled appreciatively. 

He took another sip, turned down the TV, and 
began to think of ways to turn drug hysteria to 
personal political advantage. Quayle had staked 
out the popular ground on the issue of illegal 
drugs and there wasn't much to be done about 
it short of advocating "Islamic" penalties. Ephus 
chuckled as he imagined ripping the lungs 
out of marijuana smokers and the nasal 
passages from coke snorters, but he soon 
abandoned the thought. Those penalties 
were so vicious that even those connoisseurs 
of inflicted pain, his constituents, wouldn't 
approve of them. 

That left the legal drugs. Ephus knew 
that alcohol killed well over 100,000 
people a year, including tens of 
thousands of drunk driving and 
murder victims. But a majority of 
non-drug-using adult Americans 
used alcohol on a regular basis, and 
Ephus was enough of a realist to 
know that any attempt to inflict 
severe legal pain on them would 
be doomed to failure. 

That left tobacco. It was 
more addictive than heroin 
Every year it killed over 
300,000 of its users, causing 
almost 100 times as many 
deaths as all illegal drugs 
combined. And it even 
killed 5,000 nonsmokers 
annually via second- 
hand smoke. Best of 
all, its use had plum- 
meted in recent 
years; polls had 
shown that only 
27 percent of the 



U^r 



■M 



Page 28 







m^^c^-J:^-'^?^. 



uosu\?Msai oiHdvyo 



adult population stfll used the 
vile stuff, and that many of them 
were minorities in the lowest eco- 
nomic brackets, in other words, 
■ . nonvoters. 

Tobacco was the only choice. But with 
over a quarter of the population still ad- 
dicted to it, it would be impossible to enact the 
sort of draconian penalties for tobacco use which 
had proven so popular when applied to users of less 
harmful drugs. Ephus knew he had a problem, 
but one which properly solved could lead to big 
political rewards. 
The following week he announced his plan from 
the steps of the capitol in Sacramento. It had 
three parts: First, that an additional $l-per- 
pack tax be added to the levee on cigarettes; 
Second, that the legislature mandate that 
every ten millionth cigarette sold in Czdi- 
fornia be impregnated with cyanide; Third, 
that the cigarette tax/poisoning program 
be combined with the existing state lottery 
and that the result be promoted as The 
Hot One. 
Under the proposal, the next of kin of 
"winners" would become instant 
winners themselves — they would 
collect $10,000 on the spot merely 
by hauling the cadaver and the 
unsmoked portion of The Hot One 
to the nearest lottery outlet. As a 
bonus, they would be eligible to 
participate in a drawing to ap- 
pear on The Big Spin. 
The proposal caused an 
uproar. Nonsmokers 
generally approved of it, but 
many felt that it didn't go 
ar enough. A particularly 
vehement anti-smoking 
group, Nonsmokers 
Against Smoking 
Tobacco in Everyday 
ituations (NASTIES), 
publicly urged that 
the poison used be 
botulin toxin. They 
argued that hour 

Processed World #25 




upon hour 
ol retching, 
agonizing 
pain, and 
hallucina- 
tions fol- 
lowed by 
death would 
be a fair 
pavback lor 
the misery, 
discomfort, 
and disease 
caused by 
second- 
hand 
smoke. 
Ephus 
acknowl- 
edged the 
merits oi 
their suggestion, but argued that it would 
make his proposal unworkable. Botulin 
toxin would require several hours to take 
effect, by which time The Hot One would 
have been discarded. He argued that 
this would destroy the integrity of the 
system, as the heirs of any clown who 
picked the wrong can of vichyssoise 
could haul their dear departed to the 
nearest lottery outlet and claim $10,000 
rightfully belonging to smokers. 

The anti-smokers remained uncon- 
vinced until Ephus played his trump 
card: "Look, if cyanide is used, the next 
time you're in a restaurant and some 
jerk pulls out a pack of cigarettes, you'll 
know there's a chance that the clown will 
be face down in the lettuce and thousand 
island within seconds. If botulin is used, 
that won't happen.'' 

That they bought; and the botulin 
suggestion was immediately withdrawn. 
Smokers were initially edgy about 
Ephus' proposal, but they warmed to 
the idea after he explained, "You know, 
the average smoker smokes about a pack 
a day. That works 
out to 7,300 cigar- 
ettes a year. At that 
rate you'd have to 
smoke for 1400 years 
before hitting The 
Hot One! Hell, your 
chances of getting 
eaten by hogs are 
higher than that!!" 

After Ephus ex- 
plained the minimal 
risk to smokers, 
popular opposition 
to The Hot One melt- 
ed away. Male smokers quickly realized 
that a little additional danger would 



enhance their already macho image, and 
Ephus' bill was promptly enacted into 
law. 

Within a week Ephus announced his 
candidacy for governor, lotto fever hit 
the smoking public, and the day that the 
first Hot Ones went on sale there were 
lines at cigarette counters all over the 
state. 

1 wo days later the first winner, Heber 
Benson, a 48-year-old plastics factory 
foreman, dropped dead in an Italian 
restaurant m Fresno. The other custom- 
ers were ecstatic, and Benson's wife, a 
fundamentalist christian, shrieked that 
the "rapture" had come when she hauled 
Heber's carcass to the nearest liquor 
store and received her $10,000. The 
Lottery Commission lifted her even 
higher with another $10,000 for her 
permission to use Heber's name and 
image in The Hot One's promotional 
campaign. 

Both campaigns were spectacularly 
effective. Ephus won the gov- 
ernor's race in a landslide, and 
today, a year after the first 
winner bit the dust, you can 
still see of Heber scampering 
around in lottery commercials 
lip-syncing When You're Hot 
'You're Hot. 



Lottery earnings and disbursements 
to schools have doubled — the schools 
now receive two dollars per student per 
year— and even the surgeon general's 
notice on cigarette packs has a kinder 
and gentler tone: "Warning: If you pur- 
chased this pack of cigarettes, you may 
already be a winner." 

— by Chaz Bufe 




GRAPHIC; IRSwanson 



Processed World #l'i 



Page 29 



Just Two Precious 



Weeks?!! 




l\ recent advertisement for US Air tells us that foreign 
workers (German, French, Australian) all enjoy paid vaca- 
tions of a month or more. It concludes "In the US we get just 
two precious weeks, [pause / cut to diver over pool] GO FOR 
IT!" It is at once a nakedly revealing portrait of our overwork 
and a paean to our personal toughness. 

With few exceptions, people don't enjoy work. Not only is it 
compulsory, often in a boring and predictable environment 
over which we have little or no control, suffering major 
outrages and minor threats, exercising no personal creativity, 
but the JOB keeps encroaching on our own time] While the 
work week lengthens with growing commutes and time spent 
preparing for work, the job extends into leisure space/time — 
perhaps more accurately labeled "autonomous" time, since it is 
seldom exclusively dedicated to "leisure." The phone, the 
home computer and the fax — all becoming more mobile and 
powerful — are changing our society's definition of leisure 
time. Nor is it enough to show up for work, bright eyed and 
bushy tailed — or at least awake — one must now conform to 
company policy and drug law at night and on the weekend. 

As other reviews in this issue indicate, the reduction of work 
time is not only desirable, it is feasible — dare we say necessary. 

Recently, in a break with the 40 hour straitjacket, the 
(West) German Metalworkers Union signed contracts for a 35 
hour work week, which at least suggests that it is possible to 
reduce the work week. But increasing autonomous time is not 
a goal; it is a means to a fuller life. 

The common phrase "free time" is precisely analytical, 
rather than flippant and vague. The core of the experience is 
time spent at one's own desire. Anything else may be 
satisfying for a while— for some people it may always be 

Page JO 



gratifying— but it runs the risk of becoming a sham, of being 
just another role one plays. Of course we humans are 
wondrously inventive, and so the appropriation of time and its 
multiple utilization is never a simplistic matter. What is one 
person's drudgery, avoided or minimized by gadgets or hired 
persons, is another person's joy. I like cooking and eating; my 
disposal of time (and money) will be dictated by a different 
requirement: far from minimizing it, I want to intensify the 
experience. 

Satisfaction in autonomous time is strangely elusive. Free 
time is not fun, instead it can be threatening. As "Paris- 
Cheques," a data processor in a bank puts it in Travailler Deux 
Heures Par Jour (see page 44): "The women at work tell me: 
'But what would you do with an extra free day? I don't even 
know how to go to the movies alone!' As far as they're 
concerned, if I am not either at home or at work I'm obviously 
cruising the street. ...You have coffee, next to you is 
someone who feels like having a conversation, who perhaps had 
a cool experience and it stops there. That's life. Or listening to 
some guy play jazz in the street: that's pleasure. They [the 
women] have lost even pleasure. You deny yourself joy and 
after work you get drunk or run away towards who knows 
what, eventually to die ..." 

We have so little practice in using autonomous time in 
creative ways that it would be surprising if most people were 
capable of unfettered enjoyment — schools, the crucible of 
team sports, conformity and obedience, work to dissolve 
creativity and personality, resulting in Homo Obedientus, a 
creature capable of performing menial jobs under supervi- 
sion. For many (North) Americans, leisure time is equivalent 
with the hypnotism of TV and mass sports, tinged with the 
drudgery of household tasks. 

Processed World #25 



In reality, "free" time serves to divide 
and pacify workers even as it buys them 
off. The money economy permeates 
off-work Hfe as thoroughly as it controls 
work-life. At the same time that it has 
extended itself to the farthest reaches of 
the planet by means of pesky tourists 
and ubiquitous radio waves, it has 
moved ever more relentlessly into di- 
verse spheres of domestic life. The 
"Phone Sex" industry is a colonization of 
the world of fantasy. Activities which 
used to partake but little of the realm of 
commodities are now informed by en- 
trepreneurial concerns. 

The ironically named "Leisure In- 
dustry" is big business indeed; the U.S. 
Department of Commerce estimated 
that in 1987 the U.S. spent some 570 
billion dollars on leisure — about 18% of 
all personal expenditures. Hardly sur- 
prising, as in this society the realization 
of every human need is reduced to a way 
to make money. 

Beyond the profit motive there are 
even more insidious uses of leisure — 
take, for example, an early example of 
industrial psychology. Workers in a . 
factory were divided into two groups, 
one of which was given a 15 minute 
break during the day. Not surprisingly, 
they were more productive than the other 
group, even though they worked fewer 
minutes. After the experiment the com- 
pany, with typical ingenuity, ended the 
break . . . and the workers who had re- 
ceived it remained more productive 
than the other group! Aha! A science of 
control is born. If so small a thing as a 
few minutes break entirely surrounded 
by work can be a powerful motivator we 
might deduce that paid vacations are an 
even more enticing carrot. 

Beyond the subtle manipulations of 
identity and aspiration there is an 
enforced "individualism." What were 
once collective activities become pri- 
vate—and passive — acts. In music, for 
example, we rarely create music; rather 
the "boom-box" is used to demand 
public attention, to assert existence, 
while a portable stereo and headphones 
allow us to exclude the world with our 
music. Many uses of autonomous time 
serve to separate people and confuse 
them about the world. 

We— the consumers of this leisure 
time, the temporarily free — see things 
differently. For us this time is not just a 
reward or a way to be exploited. It is the 
locus of our personalities and hopes, as 
well as our own reproduction; not just 
sex, but also cooking and cleaning and 
health maintenance and all those other 



necessary tasks that can't be done at 
work. To the extent that culture is 
produced outside of the corporate realm 
it is created and supported by this free 
time; garage bands and writers and 
artists and singers all help to both create 
and preserve popular culture. 

There are many ways of looking at 
free time on the micro-level; perhaps as 
many as there are people. How do we 
define its boundaries? I arbitrarily im- 
posed some order by borrowing a divi- 
sion used by business, which yielded 12 
broad categories: Entertainment, includ- 
ing music, movies, games (except 
sports) etc.; Sports & fitness; Culture and 
the Arts; Reading; Self- education; "The Se- 
cond Job, " including hobbies that cross 
into the commercial sphere, financial 
investments, etc.; Home improvements and 
"Do it yourself projects, etc.; Cooking 
&/or Eating; Shopping; Vacation & Travel; 
Family & Friends; and Beliefs & Values, 
which covers philanthropic, charitable, 
religious and political activities (this 
magazine, fer instance). To this list I 
would add Automobiles, including all 
those improvements & frills on cars, as 
well as "cruising" in all its forms; Pets; 
Fantasy; and Crime, such as joy riding, 
petty burglary, drugs, etc. Informal 




notes on one of these exercises — 
vacations — accompany this article as a 
sidebar. 

The difficulty categorizing this time 
reveals a central aspect of leisure time 
— it serves many uses at once. In 
autonomous activity we can discern a 
denser usage of time: while some cook, 
for instance, alone and in silence, most 
people "utilize" their now-occupied lei- 
sure by adding to it on "another chan- 
nel." The radio may be on, providing at 
least an ersatz human interaction (the 
talk show), music or a story, sports and 
games, etc. Friends or family may 
participate either by working or simply 
"hanging out" and talking. These social 
contacts are more prevalent in societies 
that are characterized by larger family 
groups and more extensive social net- 
works. 

Attitudes towards "women's work" — 
often highly productive — are also af- 
fecting the definitions of work and 
leisure. House work and child care is 
necessary to the maintenance of the 
home, indeed, of life itself, yet it is 
unpaid and often not recognized as "real 
work." 

This "free time" is not merely an 
expression of consumption; it can be a 
(re)assertion of creativity, personal en- 
joyment and worth, and our sense of 
play. It is the alter ego of our Clark 
Kent work life. 

The attempts at personal enjoyment 
and the human will to create fight 
against control and conformity. We 
day-dream on the job and take breaks to 
reassert some control over the workplace 
(or at least to side-step it for a while), we 
form friendships to ameliorate the isola- 
tion and inhuman environments. Mak- 
ing fun of the boss, or of stupid rules, 
helps us maintain sanity as well as 
undermining authority. Time-theft is 
one of the most common and direct 
ways of reasserting personal control at 
work: reading and writing, practicing 
waste-basket basketball, etc. Sabotage 
and theft represent not just personal 
gain but also ways of reasserting one's 
self; of restoring some much needed 
excitement and risk to life. We might 
also remember that the Luddites broke 
frames not simply to protest speed-ups 
and layoffs, but also in rage at the 
degraded quality of the product: the 
need for competence, as opposed to 
waste, is a very strong motivator. 

As businesses increase pressure on 
executives and managers, who increas- 
ingly have no real job security, they too 
join the stampede to identify themselves 



Processed World #25 



Page 31 



with their leisure time activities. While 
for some leisure is just another arena in 
which the personality displays itself for 
others it is increasingly the reason for 
being. 

Autonomy — or leisure, or recreation, 
by whatever name— is as productive as 
"real work" — usually more so. This is 
the seed of recreating the way we work; 
rather than wage-labor one can envision 
a different form based on this sense of 
autonomous activity. Autonomous time 
is intense, creative, social. As less time 
is spent at paid labor more may be spent 
at creative work. Not only does mecha- 
nization yield greater productivity dur- 
ing those hours at work; the time freed 
for other activities may be more fully 
used — the person will be less exhausted 
and preoccupied. 

Leisure time — autonomy, free time, 
my time — is multifaceted. It serves as a 
way of expanding the money economy 
and commodity relations as well as 
intensifying their hold. It is the essence 
of how we, as people, reproduce our- 
selves and our culture. It is both a shield 
against the tyrannies of work and a 
sword that can help end that tyranny. 

— Primitivo Morales 
Thanks to Thorsleen Veblen, Dennis Hayes, 
William Banner of Leisure Trends, and the PW 
collective; the errors and lacunae are mine. 



VACATION! 

"Some day I'm going to walk up 
to a white woman with a baby in 
her grocery cart and cry, 'What a 
darling little white child! Is he a 
full-blood? May I take his picture? 
Could you stand over by the Won- 
der Bread, please — my Hopi 
friends will just die when they see 
this!'" 

— Cynthia IVI. Dagnal-Myron 




a Hop! woman^ 



The Vacation is no mere scrap of 
time wedged between onerous tasks; 
it is the oasis at the end of work. The 
standard two weeks, barely enough to 
decompress from habit, is so stretched 
and filled that it is frequently found to 
be exhausting: "I need a vacation to 
recover from my vacation!" 

Vacations are often solitary, shared 
by the smallest social groupings: fami- 
ly, occasionally a few friends. This is 
only partly because of cost: it also 
reflects the importance of "getting 
away" for those who feel trapped at 
work or home. The ability to cast off 

Page n 




A NINE-CANDLE EVENING 

bred of disdain, this foundling nuance . . ." 

It is as though some initiate 

stumbled awkward iniike 
here to address this vitriol, 

a venom sulk, like embarrassment. 

Wet behind the years 

maturation threw one for a loop; 
some damp history yearns 

for saturation, a soaking simple dupe. 

Tea in this cup 

like some bedside opera glass 
a brewing, magnified touch 

steeped in a bungling upper class. 

Rather sweaty palms might betray 

this hesitant novice yet to speak; 
until spoken to he awaits the fray 

of conversation fearing his voice too meek. 

How tedious the Governor's breezy prattle 
ever artful his lesser minions contrive 

a shred of attention in this weasels' battle 

to advance one's own opinion is to survive. 

t has been said that there is nothing 

quite like utter, dread silence 
to make even the strongest of men shrink; 

but a particular quietude was soon evident. 

A welcome lull thus becalms the gale, 

the novitiate clears his anxious throat; 

but suddenly he bursts forth, a bolder wind in his sails 
and barks from his trousers a vaporous boast. 

n that instant the dour note had struck 

there followed a damning soundless moment 
as the entire starched still-life became stuck 
in the vortex of this nasty gaseous omen. 

K .« The mortified youth weighed the remote chance 

^.'flfc of outright escape or a brisk walk 

V'//n ^S'^''^^^ ^^^ probability that his yet smouldering pants 
' i(»!lff may have caused this painful lapse of talk. 

Multiple mega-eons seemed to elapse 

and the eolian stench by then was withering; 

a composureless call for a match 

brought about the spectacle of many men fidgeting. 

A senator was first with the tinder remedy 

cigars were awkwardly re-lit without delay; 

although these proceedings bore no small levity 
not a soul had as yet even a syllable to say. 

The young innocent trembling under the weight 
of his stiff upper-lip finally braved the quiet; 

he managed to look straight upon this muted array 
as though 'twas not he who caused such foul riot. 

The ever-genteel^assembly prepared to ignore 

this obvious guilt and resume their idle chatting; 

when at last he spoke and demurely implored 

"Well, rather decent weather we're having? . " 

Josiah R. Leet 



Processed World #25 



the standard roles, duties and sur- 
roundings is the core of the experi- 
ence. The false good cheer of the tour 
group, both guide and charges, is not 
to be mistaken for any genuine social 
contact. Transience and shallowness 
mark most such encounters with one's 
fellow tourists, and they are in far 
closer proximity— more understand- 
able—than those who inhabit the 
landscape through which the tourist 
journeys. 

By dress, money, mobility and be- 
havior the tourist distinguishes itself. 
Norms of behavior from home are 
discarded, or at least modified, while 
none of the "quaint" indigenous cus- 
toms are respected, let alone adopted. 
The sight of the tourist calmly walking 
uninvited into people's houses and 
ceremonial centers is common: such 
behavior would not be considered 
appropriate at home, wherever that 
may be. 

The tourist pays out of the pocket 
for the often unpleasant treatment 
meted out to him/her. The cost of the 
Infrastructure is often paid by govern- 
ment bodies of one sort or another 
(airports, roads, electricity, etc.). Pri- 
vate capital creates enormous islands 
—a mobile and cushioned gulag — 
dedicated to separating visitors from 
their money. There are many "resort- 
destinations," which are often literal 
fortresses in the midst of intense 
poverty. Even the wealthy North Amer- 
ican landscape is dotted with facilities 
catering exclusively to those outside 
the community, ranging from small 
tourist malls and parks to whole cities 
such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City. 
The consequences of this for the 
people in the area are rarely given more 
than lip service; they are expected to 
be grateful for the jobs. The hidden 
costs: sewage and garbage, traffic, 
etc. are borne entirely by "the locals." 

Examples of environmental despoli- 
ation are found around the globe. In a 
recent issue of Appen Features'^ there 
were articles illustrating environmental 
damage from resorts &■ tourists in 
Palawan (a unique island in the Philip- 
pines), the Antarctic. In China, the 
government's proclivity for giving 
pandas as political gifts — in this case 
to a Taiwan zoo— threatens the sur- 
vival of these endangered animals by 
shrinking the available gene pool. Ant- 
arctica is threatened by commercial 
package tours (in addition to problems 
with scientific stations), which bring 
about 3,000 visitors to the continent 




yearly; they do not dispose of non- 
biodegradable waste in compliance 
with treaties covering the Antarctic. 
The Institute of Political Ecology of 
Chile now advocates the suspension of 
such commercial tours "because this 
land of eternal ice and snow is being 
dangerously contaminated." 

The damages of the tourist industry 
go beyond the obvious ones of eco- 
logical contamination and forcing peo- 
ple into a servant relationship. The 
effects are magnified in cultural (or 
anthropological) and "green" tourism 
because of their attraction to those 
areas that are the least "spoiled." The 
tourist despoils what it most values. 
Sometimes deliberately (insisting on 
"western" accommodations) and 
sometimes unintentionally (as when 
government and private planners treat 
the indigenous people as objects of a 
development plan). There are hidden 
problems, as Peter Goering' shows: 
"The tourist economy is centered 
around Leh ia small Indian city near 
the Chinese and Pakistani borders], 
and very little of the economic benefit 
of tourism accrues to the more than 90 
percent of Ladakhis who live outside of 



this area. Within Leh the handful of 
Ladakhis who own large hotels benefit 
disproportionately. ...The problem 
goes beyond an uneven distribution of 
the benefits, however. Those not par- 
ticipating can become economically 
worse off simply by continuing to live 
as they always have. The reciprocal 
relations of mutual aid are broken 
down by the extension of the mone- 
tary economy, and tourists' demands 
for scarce resources drive up the price 
of local goods. 

"For example, in the past villagers 
commonly shared pack animals in 
informal exchange relations. Now, 
during the tourist season, animals are 
no longer available to a neighbor in 
need: they are frequently off in the hills 
carrying tourists' luggage." 

Social problems such as theft are 
increased by the disparaging— and 
painful -comparison that is made with 
foreign cultures: it comes to be valued 
by at least some of the young as better 
than their parents' culture, which is 
often seen as ignorant, backwards, the 
object of amusement by sophisticated 
people; indeed, the customs the tour- 
ists come to see are perceived as the 



Proiessed World #2S 



Page 31 




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cause of backwardness. Emulation of 
the "rich" outside world further opens 
the village to the dollar, as well as 
exacerbating environmental problems. 
The village, disunited and increasingly 
out of step with a now damaged 
environment, often changes even 
more, and not for the better. Carried 
far enough this becomes a dissolution 
so complete it scares away even the 
tourists; the area survives in a ghastly 
imitation of foreign life. The Club 
Med's slogan, "The Antidote for Civi- 
lization," is cruelly ironic. 

Of course, the objects of attention 
become damaged as well— whether 
we speak of objects such as Lascaux's 
frescoes, or of peoples' practices 



which are driven underground or al- 
tered (for instance, performing sea- 
sonal rituals at the wrong time of year 
for the tourists). Often tourists are 
presented with empty rituals, which 
they mistake for reality, and villages 
"contaminated" by foreign elements, 
which they reject as being unrealistic 
(i.e. not like the pictures &■ descrip- 
tions). 

The vacation is a token of both 
leisure and wealth: the more money 
you've got, the farther you can go 
from everyday life. Tastes differ; some 
prefer the pristine (but not for long) 
mountain fastness, others tour the 
Antarctic or swim with whales, etc. 
Some prefer to emulate the apparent 



leisure of the fabulously wealthy: the 
Club Med type vacation where one 
escapes from the sordid reality of work 
and the daily exchange of money, and 
where one has plenty of people to boss 
around while doing nothing useful. 
Time is the major constraint; money is 
secondary. 

Tourists are usually passive: they 
aren't themselves a part of the sur- 
roundings, and are shown objects and 
spectacles devoid of any meaningful 
content. Given the pack-like nature of 
many tourist activities, as well as the 
ubiquitous telephone, escaping from 
the "rat race" becomes impossible: 
they bring it with them. Organized 
leisure is the rule of the day: the only 
choices are already determined, and 
are almost always reassuringly familiar. 
Impelled by the need to have a good 
time— fast — in a narrow social space, 
the tourist leaves unsatisfied: ready for 
more, but not at the same place. 

Escape from responsibility and ev- 
eryday drudgery is guaranteed: the 
ultimate promise remains a mirage. 

- P. M. 

1) Cultural Survival Quarterly #14 (1). 
CS, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138 

2) Appen Features, Asia-Pacific People's 
Environment Network, releases 37/38, 38/39, 
and 1/90. Contact: c/o Sahabat Alam Malaysia, 
43, Salween Road, Penang Malaysia. 

3) Cultural Survival Quarterly 14(1), pg20. 




Page U 



Processed World #2? 




_ Reflections 
^//v of an 
Immigrant 



I arrived to the U.S. at 23, as a fresh 
college graduate. My B.A. was in the re- 
mote discipline of Italian and French lan- 
guage and literature. I soon found that my 
carefully planned education in Mediterrane- 
an civilization, suitable for Europe, was 
completely irrelevant in California. 

People here were more interested in my 
typing skills and ability to file alphabetically 
than in my real background. I had to swallow 
a bitter pill: I couldn't survive on a tour 
guide's (I didn't even know the area!) or 
interpreter's income. I also realized that 
having a B.A. opens up some possibilities 
in the corporate world, no matter how ob- 
solete my other qualifications were. This 
bizarre practice had been introduced, so 
that people with as bizarre an education 
as mine could find employment. European 
employers were a lot more selective, but 
then, they appreciate odd professions more. 

Upon my arrival, I discovered that, in 
order to compete for a job, I had to produce 
a resume. I wanted to get a decent job, so 
I pretended I had the enthusiasm and skills 
they were looking for. Job hunting was an 
exhausting and nerve-wracking experience 
for me, totally unprepared to compete and 
unaware of the rules of the game. For the 
first time in my life I had to "market" my- 
self. After many unsuccessful efforts, a 
sympathetic soul offered me a job and off 
I went on my new "career" path. Needless 
to say, I lost my first two jobs, just because 
of my accent and inability to follow some 
rules. My third job paid barely enough to 
survive, but the responsibilities were enorm- 
ous. During seven years in California, my 
work has become consistently more boring 
with time, not that I didn't have enough 
work, on the contrary, but there was a lot 
more bureaucracy involved, less fun, how- 
ever—it paid morel Interesting, isn't it? 

I noticed that people in America are 
generally much more devoted to their em- 
ployers than people in Europe, or, should 
I say, the percentage of overachievers and 
workaholics is much higher. I've been 
observing corporate politics with the de- 
tachment of a person who is extraneous 
not only because of her low position in 
the hierarchy, but who also comes from a 
different reality. In my old world, values 
and priorities were very different. People 



cared for one another more. Friends would 
drop by without calling. Here, telephone 
has ironically become the main means of 
communication. I couldn't help noticing 
most so called friends I happened to make 
during the first few years were superficially 
polite— a very British quality — but frightened 
to get close with other human beings, 
eager to retreat into shells they lived in. 
They were self-sufficient, used to early 
independence. After all, they never had 
much of a childhood and usually worked 
through their best teenage years. What a 
wonderful preparation for demands of 
today's maddening world! What about 
having a quiet teenagehood, deprived of 
such serious responsibilities they (biologic- 
ally) were not ready for anyway? I read 
somewhere that, by a caprice of Mother 
Nature, a human being doesn't really be- 
come ready for life until late twenties, and 
from the moment of his birth until that time, 
he lives in a sort of a social womb, where 
he learns the most important things in his 
life. Well, if that's true, then this country 
has been producing some emotionally, 
culturally and spiritually impoverished in- 
dividuals that, in turn, treat their kids in 
the same way, by getting rid of the re- 
sponsibility of having them at home as 
early as possible. Maybe I am prejudiced, 
after all I come from a country with a highly 
developed cult of child. Here, it seems, only 
rich kids can afford vyhat every human 
being is entitled to: time to grow up at a 
natural pace, without extra stress. It is no 
wonder that nobody here takes time any 
more to smell the flowers and just relax. 
Well, not quite. I have met here a few 
people who have actually developed their 
spiritual and emotional lives. 

Another distinct and disturbing phe- 
nomenon can be observed in the American 
suburbs. Those people actually feed their 
children with some very backwards ideas 
full of prejudice and conservatism. When 
I first came to this country, I lived among 
them. I ended up believing that all Ameri- 
cans were like that. Until I moved to San 
Francisco, of course. There I was lucky to 
be a part of things that actually matter, and 
fed my brain with new ideas. Of course, 
I haven't forgotten my past experience, 
and still keep wondering why education is 
the last on the list of priorities in this 
country, and why does it have to have a 
price tag? That is, why people study mostly 
for the grade, not the knowledge, if they 
study at all? Specialization pushed to ex- 
treme is maybe the key to immediate suc- 
cess, but ultimately it defeats the purpose 
of our lives on this planet. Aren't we here 



to fully experience, enjoy, compare and 
reflect? To be happy rather than miserable? 
I saw once a French engineer solve a com- 
plicated problem by analytically recreating 
the entire process— a thing that's virtually 
impossible to do for American engineeers. 
Their minds had been trained not to see 
the whole spectrum, but a small portion 
of it. Get it? People who specialize too 
much will never know what's real or what 
they are missing, it's very frightening as 
we are talking here about the most de- 
veloped country in the world! Today's 
America is very disappointing. Only a small 
group of people is enlightened enough to 
see what's actually happening. I guess it 
all starts when people learn how to recog- 
nize certain values. It all begins at home, 
then school. People here are not in touch 
with their roots, in universal sense, they 
are not in touch with their basic selves. 
They surely won't tind balance by imple- 
menting new computer solutions to their 
reality, instead of realizing they basically 
don't need that. Just like they can do 
without all that stuff they are made to be- 
lieve they need to survive. Who on earth 
needs all those cars and microwave ovens? 
Who needs three layers of packaging for 
one little thing? Why do people feel this 
urge to succeed? The tempo of living in 
America and the stress is certainly beyond 
anything I have ever seen. 

Why do I stay if I am so negative? Well, 
first of all, I am just passing by. I've always 
believed my place was somewhere quiet, 
like Canada, or inspirational, like Europe. 
Secondly, I wasn't always negative, in fact, 
at first, I was fascinated. Following the 
rules, I went broke by buying a new car, 
got myself in debt — all this glitz, you know. 
Then, I started missing my old values, so 
I took time to reflect. I studied art and 
read a lot of wonderful stuff the minority 
in this country tries to communicate to the 
rest. When I finally got ready to look 
around, I saw things the way they really 
were. I still believe this world can be 
changed. There are some people who care 
enough. And I want to contribute. In the 
country where most people don't like their 
lives, yet function with incredible efficiency, 
putting up with stress that's killing them, 
some radical change is needed. What the 
hell do they need the incredible structures 
they are locked in for? Life is complicated 
as it is. There is time and place for every- 
thing in most other places in the world, 
except here. Even in West Germany (the 
most square headed country in the world) 
they take a month of vacation every year, 
and their productivity level stays the same. 
Amazing, isn't it? 

Well, I have given you a piece of my 
mind. As terrible as it sounds, this is what 
I really think. I am actually glad I was able 
to be an observer, and hope you don't 
take all this too hard, providing that 
chauvinism doebii't impair your sense of 

'^^''^y -MalgorzataG. 



Processed World #25 



Page « 



The Right 
To 
Be Lazy 



"... You have to have Mr. Novak unemployed, 
unhappy, sleepless, going crazy, and then happy 
to take a job on a road or elsewhere." 

— Rita Klimova, new Czech ambassador to U.S. 

quoted by Rob Waters, June 1 990 Mother Jones 




"Far better were it to scatter pestilence and to 
poison the springs than to erect a capitalist 
factory in the midst oj a rural population. 
Introduce factory work, and farewell joy, 
health and liberty; farewell tu all that makes 
life beautiful and worth living. " 

The French constitution contains a 
phrase about the "Right to wori<." 
Unlike its US cousin, this phrase didn't 
mean overtly anti-union/syndicalist 
laws; it simply states that workers 
demanded work. But was it really the 
workers demanding work, or was it the 
new owners of France requiring work- 
ers? 

One hundred years alter the French 
revolution a demand was put torward by 
the workers of North America for a 
40 hour work week, in contrast to then 
common 10-13 hour days, 6 days a 
week. The infamous Hayrnarket Mas- 
sacre and May Day were indirect re- 
sults of this struggle; the reduction in 
work took a bit longer: in the US it 
wasn't obtained until during or just 
after WW II. 

In the '90s a lot of people look 
enviously at the 40 hour work-week; the 
rats may have won the race but the rest 
of us are still frantically galloping. Even 
so common a source as the Gallup poll 
indicates that the work week has in- 
creased from 40.6 hours in 1973 to 46.9 
hours in 1988. Even the "progressives" 
issue calls for "full employment." Is 
there no alternative? 

Karl Marx's son-in-law, Paul Lafar- 
gue, could perhaps be called a man 
ahead of his time. I say perhaps becau.se 
it may more properly be said that no 
person is ahead of their own time; it's 
just that most people are well behind 
their own. This was biought home when 
the Pfy collective was sent a book, a new 
edition of an 1880 tract called "The 
Right to Be Lazy," by Monsieur Paul 
Lafargue. Stick with me while I retrace 

Page J6 



ancient history. 

M. Lafargue, born in Santiago Cuba 
on January 15, 1842, was the son of a 
mulatto woman — Virginia — who had 
lied Haiti, and of Abraham Armagnac 
— a conservative landowner from Boi- 
deau.x. He was expelled from a univer- 
sity in Paris along with other students 
lor insulting church and state in 1865. 
He soon became a member of the 
Proudhonist French section of the first 
international (IWMA). He studied 
medicine in England, graduating in 
1868, and then practicing in London for 
a while. On April 2, 1868 he married 
Karl Marx's daughter, Laura. He was 
in Paris when the Franco- Prussian war 
started. When the Paris Commune was 
declared he went to Paris, but returned 
to the provinces to campaign on behalf 
of the Commune. After the fall of the 
Commune he was smuggled into Spain, 
arrested on August 11, 1871, and was 
held for 10 days. He was released before 
a secret society was able to initiate a plot 
to free him, and went to work in Spain 
as ^ member of the First International 
(IWMA); he was by then allied with 
Engels against Bakunin. In 1880 he was 
back in France, writing for a socialist 
weekly called L'Egalite. This is when he 
wrote "The Right to Be Lazy." It was 
printed as a book in 1883 while he was 
in jail on political charges. 

He starts by denouncing "A strange 
delusion" that posseses the working 
classes: "... the love of work, the 
furious passion for work, pushed even to 
the exhaustion of the vital force of the 
individual and his progeny. Instead of 
opposing this mental aberration, the 
priests, the economists and moralists 
have cast a sacred halo over work." 

The thinking that underlies these 
conditions was not at all new, even then. 
He cites a 1770 pamphlet, published 
anonymously in London under the title 



"An Essay on Trade and Commerce " 
Part of it reads "the factory population 
of England had taken into its head the 
fixed idea that . . . Englishmen . . . have 
by right of birth the privilege of being 
freer and more independent than the 
laborers ot any country in Europa. This 
idea may have its usefulness for soldiers, 
since it stimulates their valor, but the 
less the factory workers are imbued with 
it the better for themselves and the state. 
Laborers ought never to look upon 
themselves as independent of their su- 
periors. It is extremely dangerous to 
encourage such infatuations in a com- 
mercial state like ours, where perhaps 
seven-eighths of the population have 
little or no property. The cure will not 
be complete until our industrial laborers 
are contented to work for six days for 
the same sum which they now earn in 
lour." He goes on to propose imprison- 
ing the poor in work-houses, which 
should be "houses of terror, where they 
should work fourteen hours a day in 
such a fashion that when meal time was 
deducted there should remain twelve 
hours of work. . ." Ever wonder where 
Maggie Thatcher & Co. get their ideas? 

Lafargue goes on to describe the 
many wonders of industrial work and 
the many blessings that it brings on the 
workers, among them bitter poverty and 
an early death. He quotes several of his 
contemporaries about the grim condi- 
tions prevailing in Europe at the time 
— 12 and 14 hour days for men, women 
and children, poor food, polluted air, 
long commutes (by foot), etc. 

He drives home the contrast with the 
idyllic promises of the ideologues of 
work, among them a Rev. Mr. Town- 
shend of the Anglican Church: "Work, 
always work, to create your prosperi- 
ty. . ."" Referring to the legal imposition 
of work the good cleric continues: "[it] 
gives too much trouble, requires too 

Processed World #25 



much violence and makes too much 
noise. Hunger, on the contrary, is not 
only a pressure which is peaceful, silent 
and incessant, but as it is the most 
natural motive for work and industry, it 
also provokes to the most powerful 
efforts." 

Yet the reality was that workers were 
never given more than a fragment of 
what they produced — merely enough 
for a brute survival, while the vast 
productivity of industry was consumed 
by a very narrow minority. Indeed, the 
rich could not dispose of all the surplus, 
which, claims M. Lafargue, led to the 
cyclical crises of capitalism. There is too 
much food while workers starve, and so 
it has to be burned. There is too much 
cloth even as people wear tattered rags, 
etc. And, "of course, the slump in 
"demand" would require less produc- 
tion, and the consequent unemployment 
of multitudes of workers. This is a direct 
result of the tremendous productivity of 
"modern" industry. 

He gives an example of conditions in 
one industry. Says he "A good working- 
woman makes with her needles only five 
meshes a minute, while certain circular 
knitting machines make 30,000 in the 
same time. Every minute of the machine 
is thus equivalent to a hundred hours of 
the workingwomen's labor. .. What is 
true for the knitting industry is more or 
less true for all industries. . .But what 
do we see? In proportion as the machine 
is improved and performs man's work 
with an ever improving rapidity and 
exactness, the laborer, instead of pro- 
longing his former rest times, redoubles 
his ardor, as if he wished to rival the 
machine." He clearly despises the rich 
for promulgating this philosophy— for 
requiring it, even — but he also hurls 
epithets at the working class for having 
embraced it whole-heartedly, for having 
acquiesced in their own enslavement; 
"this double madness of the laborers 
killing themselves with over-production 
and vege Mng in abstinence." 

He attacks the concept of progress as 
well, saying "our epoch has been called 
the century of work. It is in fact the 
century of pain, misery and corruption. 
And all the while the philosophers, the 
bourgeois economists. . .all have in- 
toned nauseating songs in honor of the 
god Progress, the eldest son of Work. 
Listen to them and you would think that 
happiness was soon to reign over the 
earth, that its coming was already 
perceived." As one of his examples he 
cites the old regime (before the French 
revolution) as having guaranteed, by 
the laws of the Church, 90 rest days; 52 

Processed World #25 



Sundays and 38 holidays during which 
it was strictly forbidden to work. He 
cites this as one of the great crimes of 
Catholicism (in the eyes of the bour- 
geoisie) and a major cause of the 
apparent irreligiosity in the commercial 
bourgeoisie who "emancipated the 
workers from the yoke of the church in 
order the better to subjugate them under 
the yoke of work." He gives many cases 
from feudal and pre-capitalist Europe to 
support the idea that the machines have 
not brought us leisure. He does point 
out that the reductions in work that had 
been attempted up to then — in England 
where there was a reduction in the work 
day to 10 hours a day from 12 — it was 
accompanied by increased productivity! 

In one passage, again curiously rele- 
vant to today, he says "Our epoch will 
be called the 'Age of Adulteration' just as 
the first epochs of humanity received the 
names of 'The Age of Stone,' 'The Age 
of Bronze,' ..." Examples, such as 
treating silk with salt to weaken it, 
remind us that the deliberate cheapen- 
ing of goods is not a modern idea. 
Lafargue sarcastically extolls the inven- 
tiveness of these capitalists. 

He ends with a chapter — "New Songs 
to New Music" — in which he sketches a 
society based on laziness. Far from 
calling for abolishing the capitalist 
class — and other non-productive para- 
sites (generals, free and married prosti- 
tutes, etc.) — he says "if they swear they 
wish to live as perfect vagabonds in spite 
of the general mania for work, they 
should be pensioned and should receive 
every morning at the city hall a five 
dollar gold piece." Satirical, but with an 
element of utter seriousness beneath it 
all — what happens when everybody, not 
just a few, are allowed to consume fully 
of what is produced, are allowed a life of 
full leisure? 

In his introduction to the book, 
Joseph Jablonski points out that many 
generations of radicals have lost sight of 
M. Lafargue's visionary society of lei- 
sure, continuously echoing the cry for 
"more jobs." "Authentically revolution- 
ary theory," he continues, "was kept 
alive by the various currents of the 
extreme Left: Wobblies, anarchists, 'ul- 
tra-Left Marxists, Wilhelm Reich, the 
Frankfurt School, and the surrealists. In 
the 1960s the Black insurrections, wild- 
cat strikes, the 'New Left,' the women's 
liberation movement and the 'counter- 
culture' brought this hidden revolution- 
ary tradition. . .to the fore. In more 
recent years younger radicals have 
found in the even more hidden tradition 
of wilderness (or ecological) radicalism 



— of Henry David Thoreau, John 
Muir, Robert Marshall, Aldo Leopold 

— a crucial complement to their social 
radicalism, and a challenge to the naive 
optimism of most Marxists and anar- 
chists (Lafargue included) regarding the 
emancipatory character of technology." 

This is an excellent book and for the 
most part it doesn't show its age. The 
style of M. Lafargue's writing is some- 
what dated — elaborate metaphors, 
heavy use of the vocative, a certain 
hyperbole — but the material here is as 
important as ever, and not only for the 
ideas of leisure. 

M. Lafargue was also an organizer. 
As Fred Thompson puts it (pg 91): ". . . 
his reputation is mainly that of a 
popularizer of Marxism; party builder 
he became, too — and insistent that the 
party serve immediate and long-run 
needs of the workers. . .and yet [he was 
also] a champion of socialist unity. . . . 
M. Lafargue aimed to build a move- 
ment in which there was scope for those 
of his fellow rebels with whom he 
disagreed." This book goes a ways 
towards revealing a man whom most 
historians have ignored, or slighted. 

The book itself has a long printing 
history. It was translated into English by 
Charles H. Kerr in 1907, and has been 
reprinted many times by, among others, 
the IWW as well as the Socialist Party 
during the days of Eugene Debs and 
Emma Goldman. Its most recent print- 
ing was by the Chicago anarchist group 
Solidarity Publications in 1969. It has 
now been reprinted by the Charles H. 
Kerr Publishing Company, of Chicago 
(1989). It has the full text of M. 
Lafargue's piece (60 pages), an intro- 
duction by Joseph Jablonski and an 
essay about the man and his times by 
Fred Thompson. This is an excellent 
book — as history, as analysis, as rhetor- 
ic. It has its problems — left as a solution 
for the reader — but it belongs on 
YOUR bookshelf. 

— P. Morales 




l-^C/i-.-^ 



Page 57 



PERSISTENCE 

8:05 K bus pulses in the terminal 
under a web of girders reliefed 
in soot and pigeonshit 

where dappled roseate fog is gliding in 
A five-year black boychild lies 
deeper than dream 

on the front bench seat, head entrusted 

to small open hand 

The driver, muscle backed 

in her green uniform sweater 
leans over him — to take him? 
no, tucks with tender precision 

a red toy into his pocket. This 

after such endless theft of song 

She turns to the windshield rose-nimbus 

seats herself, guns engine, takes us 

out onto the roaring bridge How can we 

not persist? 

Adam Cornford 




I 



i 



I 



PHOTO: lames Carman 



HUNTER 



THE RADIATORS 

A dry pen in a dry brain: 

an ageing man in an aged house. 

The radiators work diligently 

to make offense of this 

winter season. 

The pipes clang and start 

as they stage their egos 

in whistles through 

the falling day. 

I work at sleep 
to ease the pain 
of a seascape mind. 
The foam on shore 
is the night's residue. 

Though I do not write, 
I dream 

and wake to the fragments 
of my internal history: 
a labyrinth of labyrinths 
I have chosen. 

After months of silence, 
the sentence of my psyche, 
I write to get the click 
of my inner thermostat 
to raise the heat 
of a pen turning paper 
into steam. 

John |. Soldo 



Irresistably, he wants to catch that bird 

the hunter in him is easily tapped 

he squats down close to quarry 

and is it not also that he wants to breathe 

in the mystery of the little bird 

rather than possess that small form 

the tiniest of scarlet tanager 

with his red earmuffs and rectangular 

red form above his breast, his 

protection from aggressors 

that brilliant red striping 

which will mesmerize an attacker 

create a state of awe and attraction 

In her What a cute bird, I 

say and it sidles away as the boy 

is now looking at me and broken 

is the magnetism between him 

and this smallest creature 

he, myself and the tanager 

are all city guys, our experience 

is almost a success ending 

mostly in indifference with the 

bird out of sight and the recognition 

between the boy and myself quickly 

stilled in the necessity of city life 

to turn elsewhere 

Janice King 



IF THE WEATHER CHANNEL WENT OFF THE AIR 

buildings would collapse 

cities would be swallowed by the earth 

life as we know it would cease to exist, 

a harrowing thought 

that makes each performance 

an inferno of urgency. 



Adam Quest 



DID I TELL YOU I USED 

TO WORK FOR A VAMPIRE? 

Did I tell you I used to work for a vampire? 

Typing, phones, 
light bookkeeping. 
The usual. 

Most jobs 

when they pat you on the back, 
they're just feeling out 
where to slide in the knife. 

I thought at least this'll be different, 
more up front. 

It was all right. 

Lousy hours. 

Had to work holidays. 

And the vampire had weird friends. 

But he dressed well, 

with a certain Old World charm. 

Didn't tell a lot of stupid jokes. 

But I had to tell him about Secretary's Day. 

He was a lot like my other bosses. 

Although once 

I asked him for a night off 

and the look he gave me 

was definitely 

from beyond the grave. 

Christopher Hershey 



Page )8 



Processed World #25 



THIS IS MY LIFE. |ONATHAN DAVID 



CHANGE 



If I had time, 1 would tell you 

What my wrists feel like that no longer bow 

To the hinge of my arm, sometimes drop things, 

Unannounced, barely nod to the pneumatic gun 

Torquing bolts into nuts every fifty-five seconds; 

Show you those wrists singed under gloves 

And forearms dingy with burns; 

Show how my fingers sponge oil 

From oxheads and only come clean after 

Long lay-offs; show you my body 

As it sways to the rhythm of the spring-suspended 

Spotgun, a pendulum keeping pace with my 

Automatic fingers glued to my palm 

After six hours of sleep 

And snap when I pry them up. 

Son, if you'd ask, I'd lift my shirt. 

Show you the paths welding sparks take down 

My neck, my back, on their way to burn holes 

In my jocket waistbands and how I stand there. 

Absorb their fire, car after car 

For seven hours and fourteen minutes, 

Five days a week; I would show you 

Smokestrings lining my nostrils 

And legs that spring into the plant 

Like struts but do an old man's shuffle 

Out at three; ask you to watch my supervisor 

Watching me weld, how he takes my gun 

And demonstrates with one car 

What I should do with four-hundred twenty-nine 

While saying "I can do it; you can do it, right?" 

Show you my robot nod; 

I would tell you about the editorials 

And about my friends that argue about autoworkers 

Overpaid with cradle-to-grave' security. 

My family that reads what I earn, 

Show my unemployment card collection. 

Tell you what it's like 

Building the Car of the Year 

Nobody wants; 

Tell you I'm more than the handsome face 

Slid between seconds of timeclock sensors 

But my time has run out. 

Christopher R. Barnes 



FOG 

showing out-of-focus gray 
over the water 
posing as a painting that 
doesn't admit to much but is just 
"done this way " 

blurred-out loss of line 

is purposed to preserve illusions 

and being an 

all-around-presence thing 

rates right up there 

artistic as anything past 

hovering, totally unretouched . . . 

Jim DeWitt 



i met a poet 

who was trying 

to sell 

his fashionable 

string tie 

for a shot 

of whiskey 

one night 

after i had 

been waiting 

tables in a 

small bistro 

where all the 

customers come 

in at once 

&v having a pocketful of tips 

i obliged &^ bought 

him a well drink 

at the bar next door 

&^ as he pulled off his tie 

he talked of dante 

&^ the recurring questions 

of existence 

&^ as i put the tie 

in my pocket 

i thought i might 

feel differently about 

the answers in the morning 

Richard Wilmarth 




PHOTO: lames Carman 



THLMOON 



Uta was describing her restlessness. How she just 
wants to take a trip and go anywhere. Especially 
anywhere far. To Paris. To Amsterdam. To the DDR. 
To San Francisco. To Mexico. 'I think I'd really like 
to go to the moon!", she said, then without paus- 
ing, she said, "The moon is going to be full this 
weekend," and at first I thought she meant that it 
was going to be full of people who all wanted to 
get away for the weekend and go someplace far. 

Glenn Caley Bachmann 



Processed World #25 



Page }9 




The Occult Revival 



It began as a joke. 

Phillip Kaufman had played the 
trombone on Bleeker Street for years. In 
the Seventies and early eighties the place 
bloomed with a few clubs and restau- 
rants. Now that the bloom has withered, 
it has returned to what it always has 
been — angry graffiti and swirling news- 
papers which had served as someone's 
blankets the night before. The smarter 
mobile beggars and all of the musicians 
save for Phillip moved ten blocks east to 
Ambrose Avenue. I don't know if Blake 
was right about the entire universe in a 
grain of sand, but you can have an 
entire world in ten blocks. Phillip stayed 
in front of the Green Dragon, the only 
bar with any clientele. He slid his 
trombone out every night for pennies 
and dimes. People reserved their quar- 
ters for the jukebox on the premises. 

One night he shows up with a faded 
orange Arrow shirt and black corduroy 
pants and a black beret. And he puts the 
beret on the curb and a sign by the beret 



reading "Damnation Army Please 
Give." So folks ask him, "if you in the 
army, what rank are you?" "I'm a 
private but I aim high." "How many 
folks you damned?" "So far just one. 
Myself. I damned myself but if I can get 
a few more bucks I'll damn some more 
folk." It was a cold night and people felt 
sorry for a crazy man in a thin shirt and 
Phillip drew in sixty dollars. 

He left with the closing time ciowd. 
"I've got to give the Boss His cut." So he 
counted out six dollars and tossed the 
money into a storm drain. Bill the wino 
crawled out of the shadows and tried to 
get at the money, and Bill said there 
weren't no money no more. It had 
disappeared like. 

But that don't mean nothing. 

Phillip was there the next night. Some 
folks allowed as how his playing was 
better but he walked away with only 
fifty dollars— five dollars to the Boss. 
Phillip drew about the same every night 
which was bad news for the Green 



Dragon. He was drawing from the same 
crowd every night so it was always 
fifty-sixty dollars out of the till. After 
four nights, which is to say on Thurs- 
day, Susan, the Green Dragon's own- 
er/barkeep, called the police. 

The police came on Friday at 6:00 just 
as the Green Dragon's night was start- 
ing. Unfortunately a film crew from 
KHLY came also. One of the patrons 
must've I ailed in the story; although, it's 
hard to imagine any of them being 
enfranchised enough to handle calling a 
news station. The cops asked Phillip to 
move. He said it was a public sidewalk. 
The cops told him to put away the sign. 
He said they were violating his First 
Amendment rights of religious expres- 
sion. I'he cops asked if this was a 
legitimate religion, and if so, why hadn't 
"they heard of it. He pulled a sheet of 
paper from his shirt pocket, unfolding 
the paper three times to typewriter-size. 
It bon- two columns in a gothic type 
with its margins festooned with inverted 



Page 40 



Processed World #25 



penlacles, goat's heads and snakes. 
While the lead cop studied this (and 
KHLY filmed), Phillip said if the cops 
didn't know about his religion — well, he 
wasn't responsible for their ignorance 
— and he offered to damn them on the 
spot. This proved too rnuf h for one ot 
the junior cops who shoved Phillip off 
the curb and onto the cold asphalt Ml of 
this made the ten o'clock news and eaiK 
Saturday morning an ACLU lawyer 
(ailed on Phillip in jail. Phillip got 
sprung and dedined to sue the polut- 
department because "some folks cani 
handle damnation when it first ( omes m 
call." 

He was back in front of the fJrecn 
Dragon Monday night. A guy pulled up 
in a cream-in-coffee colored Nissan 
pickup truck. He had a beat-up piano in 
the back. He walked up to Phillip and 
took out his own gothic-print paper. 
Phillip studied it for a moment, and 
then the two had a confab. Jazz piano 
anci slide trombone are a shaky combi- 
nation, but the pair had a great aucii- 
ence due to media coverage. They took 
in two hundred anci forty dollars. Susan 
relented. All these new people came in 
for a drink (or just to get warm and 
bought a drink as space rental). She 
hired two barmaids from the crowd to 
go outside and take people's orders. 

The next day Susan told Phillip the 
Damnation Army could play on the 
inside of the Green Dragon. Phillip said 
no but thanks kindly. There's plenty of 
damnation available in c heap bars, but 
some folks find salvation there too. It 
wouldn't do to send out mixed signals. 
The IRS showed up in the form of a 
little man in a gray suit. The IRS said it 
was tired of people making up these 
pseudo- religions to avoid paying taxes 
Phillip pulled out his paper and handed 
it to the IRS and said theirs was a real 
religion. The IRS stared at the paper 
and turned it over and over in his 
hands. Frankly he couldn't make heads 
or tails of it. The IRS desperately 
needed new contact lenses. The IRS 
drove away in his Hyundai and a 
tambourine man bicycled up. The tam- 
bourine man also had a paper. So there 
was a trio. 

The Senttrifl and the Chronicle sent 
reporters to cover the Damnation 
Army. They printed lots of junk to fill 
out their articles— satanic graffiti seen in 
downtown areas, white slavers in 
shopping malls, heavy metal music. The 
last reference was pure nonsense. The 
Damnation Army mainly played jazz 
standards including "That Old Black 



Magic," "Devil Moon," and "I'm Head- 
ing for the Last Round-up." Several 
ministers, two priests, and a rabbi came 
to the next night's performance looking 
for something to denounce. They didn't 
find anything they could clearly de- 
nounce; although one of the priests was 
disturbed by a jack-o-lantern on top of 
the piano. It was more than a month to 
Hallcnveen, and the priest knew what 
jack-o-lanterns really signified. The 
absence of the denouncable didn't stop 
one Pentecostal minister from sermo- 
rnzing. He began preaching between 
>.ris iiKJ Phillip said, "Your intentions 
may be well and good but I don't come 
play my 'bone in your church." And a 
couple of burly men picked the minister 
u[) e\'er so gently and deposited him 
se\'eral blocks away. The crowd won- 
dered if these men had their marching 
orders from Satan. 

The Damnation Army was con- 
demned from many pulpits next Sun- 
day. And strong-eyed youths, knights of 
Christianity all, hid in the Monday 
night shadows waiting for two o'clock. 
The (ireen Dragon closed at two and the 
Damnation Army (in its only seeming 
tie to commercialism) stopped playing 
then. The crowd walked or stumbled to 
their cars. The Army was counting the 
night's proceeds. The knights ran at 
them hurling bricks and stones and such 
other detritus as could be found in the 
vacant lc3ts of Bleeker Street. Two lads 



had removed a plate glass from an 
abandoned store front and ran with it 
between them like brackets [ ]. They 
were going to smash it on these men 
who challenged their ideas, but they 
tripped on the uneven sidewalk. One 
was pretty cut up. The other was dead. 
The Damnation Army also suffered — 
bruises all, Phillip a cut on his right 
hand, the pickup lost all its glass 
(including headlights), the jack-o- 
lantern was smashed. This too made the 
papers and the extent of the destruction 
embarras.sed some of the ministers who 
had cau.sed it. Others remained stead- 
fast. 

There was no Tuesday night per- 
formance, but the Damnation Army 
was back on Wednesday. The crowd 
surrounded them protecting them from 
angry missiles that never came. A 
national news team got some pictures 
and everybody struggled to get into 
them. One sour note: a drunk, a Green 
Dragon regular who could never do 
without the crowds, told a reporter that 
he'd never known that a nigger (mean- 
ing Phillip) could get a black eye. 

There was some talk in town that Mr. 
and Mrs. Chase, the parents of the dead 
boy, might sue the Damnation Army as 
contributing to the death of their son, 
but it was only talk. 

An enterprising fellow rented a store- 
front a block from the Green Dragon. 
He put in bookshelves and filled the 




Processed World #25 



Page 41 



shelves with paperback occuh and UFO 
books, skull candles, Tarot card decks, 
quartz crystals from Arkansas, and 
bottles of come-to-me oil. He put in 
fluorescent lights and an open 24 HRS 
sign. He put out an awning with the 
shop's name. Ye Damnation Book 
Shoppe. Phillip strolled in the next 
morning and told him to change the 
name of the shop. Phillip said, "All 
you're selling is junk. You got papers? 
You don't got no Authority. I'm selling 
the real Damnation and if you want 
Damnation you come to me, and if any 
of your clients want Damnation they 
can come to me, and if they want damn 
fine music they can come to me too." 
Phillip left and there was a smell of 
brimstone to the air. And the next day 
the sign read Blue Goat Bookstore New 
and Used, and it attracted the usual 
collection of neurotics and near-mystics 
such stores attract. 

Susan had the Green Dragon's sign 
repainted and the tacky dark paneling 
torn out. 

Phillip refused interviews with 60 
Minutes and a chance to appear on 
Geraldo. "Shucks," he said, "I'm just a 
'bone player." and he pulled out his by 
now somewhat worn paper by way of 
explanation. And the studio recruiters 
studied it hoping for an address so they 
could interview the brains of the opera- 
tion. 

There was no address. 

Friday night, Bessie Mae, an over- 
weight brunette from a closed-down 
go-go club, arrived. She had her own 
paper. When night fell she climbed on 



top of the piano and began a strip tease. 
This was widely condemned from the 
pulpits. Several ministers prevailed 
upon the police to put an end to this and 
likewise the illegal practice of serving 
drinks out of doors. The police arrived 
about eight. Sergeant Cabanis and Of- 
ficer Bulhon. Bessie had finished her 
first act and was in the Green Dragon 
trying to warm up. It's hard to strip in 
forty-degree weather, but you've got to 
do what you've got to do. The police 
read a cease and desist order to Phillip 
Kaufman, and Phillip said (1) He wasn't 
the one doing the stripping, and (2) 
He'd advise Bessie Mae to cease and 
desist if they could show him a law 
against a woman taking her clothes off 
atop a piano, which rested in a glassless 
Nissan pickup truck in front of a Bleeker 
Street dive. And the cops said they'd be 
back later this evening to arrest Bessie 
Mae if Bessie Mae was still stripping. 

The cops drove off, and it came to 
pass that they were involved in a 
high-speed auto chase, and they drove 
their car into a concrete bridge support. 

But that don't mean nothing. 

After another week they had their first 
convert. A wimpy-looking guy with a 
blond beard and thinning hair stepped 
up between sets. "I want damnation," he 
said. Phillip leaned over with his trom- 
bone in one hand — leaned real close so 
they could smell what each other had for 
dinner. Then Phillip said "Are you sure, 
brother? Are you ready to disbelieve? 
Are you ready to renounce God and all 
his works?" Everyone saw this guy was 
scared. Scared to say yes, scared to back 



down. So he said "Yes," all thin and 
high. And Phillip said "Well brother 
give me your address and I'll handle all 
the paperwork." The guy wrote some- 
thing on a index card and everybody 
watched him all night. They was afraid 
that the worn-out asphalt of Bleeker 
Street would open up and swallow him. 

There was a lot of talk in town the 
next day. The Chronicle ran a piece on a 
man who claimed to be finding the Satanic 
tithe in the city's drain system. Phillip 
challenged the man to show up at a 
D.A. meeting, and of course the guy 
never did. 

The first convert showed up down- 
town in front of the biggest bank in 
town. He put an old flaking teflon pot 
on the sidewalk. He'd written in Magic 
Marker on the side "Give to the Dam- 
nation Army." He wore a devil costume 
and rang a bell. Three types of people 
put money in his pot: people who were 
amused, people who were afraid not to 
give, and people who give to every street 
charity so they won't have to look the 
solicitor in the eye. Some folks com- 
mented on the bell — when they were 
well away. Massive verdigrissed brass 
cast in arcane sigils and forgotten, 
forbidden words. 

There were more converts in the next 
few days. Soon almost every important 
street corner had its bell ringer. Phillip 
made a rare statement to the press, "The 
Damnation Army is growing. Soon it 
will be a big thing. Soon it will be in 
your town. When it is, I'm sure you'll 
know what to do." 

-Don Webb 



(For Stephen and Nancy) 




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ALL PROFITS GO TO B.A.C.A.T., A non-profit California Corporation, owner of Processed World. 



Processed World #25 



Page 43 




1 



'J noivtijJlU^^ "^l^i^u^y H^mM' ^^ ^o-^i/i^ m 



@ 



"The question I am raising is why this life goes on — what purpose it serves, 
and who wants it to continue, and why. I am not taking the merely rebellious, 
faineant [lazy] attitude. I am considering the social significance oj a 

plongeur's lije. Essentially, a 'smart' hotel is a place where a hundred 

people toil like devils in order that two hundred may pay through the nose for 
things they do not really want. Ij the nonsense were cut out of hotels and 
restaurants, and the work done with simple efficiency, plongeurs might work 
six or eight hours a day instead of ten or fifteen. " 

— Down and Out In Paris and London 
by George Orwell (1933) 

Writing goes against the grain: it is Work. Reading is 
pleasure: I am a reader. This book is in French, but it is so 
important that I had to take up my pen. We spend too much 
of our short lives at work, or commuting and preparing for is, 
so I make it my task to tell you about Travailler. 

Published in 1977, it is the effort of a collective named 
Adret, which means the sunny side of a mountain, just as does 
the "Yang" of "Yin and Yang" fame. The first half is comprised 
of five tales of toil from all walks of worklife : "3/8," 
"Paris-Cheques," a longshoreman, a secretary and a metal 
worker/locksmith who started work at the age of 14 in 1928. I 
read these tales in one happy sitting. Their insights echo my 
own twenty years of toil. 

"Liberate the Schedules!" is the title of the second part of the 
book. It presents arguments in favor of a Utopian society 
based on individuals; it analyzes attitudes towards "tied work" 
as opposed to "free work" (tied to your job or free to work at 
home?). Its author is a theoretical physicist who decided to 
drop out: "It all stemmed from a single question: What was 
the meaning of my scientific activities which led me 
obstinately to pursue the exploration of increasingly distant 
worlds, when the 'real' problems, those affecting the evolution 
of humanity, remained outside the walls of the scientific 
institution, despite their urgency?" 

Shaken by "defections" in scientific circles, L.V. ceased to 
believe in his job. He quit to start on social research. His 
background gives him a tremendous ease with numbers, and 
he went through a ton of statistics (INSEE, the French 
National Statistics Institute, for example), double checking as 
he went, to dig out the numbers. His calculations show that 



two hours a day would be sufficient to maintain current French 
lifestyles. 

Where is Progress? 

"I looked at the French economy during two periods of 40 
years each: 1896-1936, and 1936-1976. During the first 
period productivity (i.e. production per head per hour) 
increased by a factor of 3. During the same period, worktime 
was divided by a factor of 1.4. During the second period, 
productivity augmented even more than in the first: it was 
multiplied by 3 or 4, but the length of the workday did not 
significantly change." He provides this visual aid: 




So what happens with all this production? A good example 
is given from a story out of "Le Monde" (P.M. Dontrelant, 
11-4-1975): "The destruction of 100,000 tons (eur) of apples, 
straight from the tree to the waste dump." Farmers, paid to 
destroy their crops line up with truckloads, paid for wasting a 
billion apples by the E.E.C.'s FEOGA (Fond Europeen 
Agricole). It reminds one of The Grapes of Wrath and its 
gasolined oranges and starving Okies. 

The issue is WASTE, one recognized in the U.S., certainly 
not new, yet more vital than ever. Time is wasted also. L.V. 
has a chapter on the subject ("A Time of Waste, a Waste of 
Time"), and guess what? Its primary concern is the waste 
occasioned by cars: ''Time Lost to Speed: When you look at the 
hours a car can save you and the hours you spend paying for 
it, you start yearning for the days of walking and bicycling. A 
worker owning a car spends for its purchase, upkeep, repairs 
and insurance, some 375 hours or about 2 months of work on 
the average." 



Page 44 



Processed World #25 



But I,.V. doesn't want to deprive you 
of your car. He proposes reducing the 
nuinlKT of hours needed to pay for it by 
building sensible cars— made to last, easy 
to fix by yourself, simple and environ- 
mentally-minded. He also promotes a 
decentralized organization: the return 
to living and working within a walkable 
or busable distance. 

I disagree with his car scheme entire- 
ly. Looking at the total cost of this mode 
of transportation, humanity will pollute 
its environment beyond repair, to the 
point of extinction. 

But how many are willing to consider 
public transportation as an alternative 



manage it." Or as the longshoreman 
puts it: "Me, I'm, all for mechanization: 
I swear I'd rather have a machine do my 
job, otherwise at night . . . I'm dead 
with fatigue." 

Work and pleasure are intertwined 
— good sex equals a good workout 
doesn't it? So does gardening, cooking, 
carpentry, hacking, and a long list of 
other "useful" activities. 

To return to the issue at hand — 
retlucing the hours that it takes to utilize 
machinery — L.V. makes the same ar- 
gument about small appliances. Instead 
of units welded shut, which cannot be 
fixed, he imagines the possibility of 



^^^ '^^^ ^^^^ '^^^^h^-'^^^ 
Hope isn't crazy; the dream is 
reasonable. Let loose the imagination! 



to cars.-* Imagine the resources wasted in 
individual cars applied to diversified 
"public" transportation modes (includ- 
ing free fleets of bikes in cities and 
"rental- private" vehicles to get to other- 
wise inaccessible places). We would 
need only a fraction of what the private 
auto industry consumes and people 
would not spend more than 2 months a 
year earning the choice to go places at 
their will. The time saved could be spent 
traveling. 

No cars, well-organized, subsidized 
and far-reaching free public transporta- 
tion, neighborhoods, trees, birds, old 
people, the end of hierarchy, the begin- 
ning of an economy based on the needs 
of the people, equal sharing of resources 
includuig ourselves: that's what I want. 

Take care of the big five— shelter, 
food, clothing, education and medical 
care first. With two hours of daily work 
you have time to do whatever you want: 
tend a garden, tell tales and play games 
with the kids, build your own house, 
have a sex life and get enough sleep to 
stay healthy. 

As an illustration, in the tales of toil, 
the worker "3/8" describes how, because 
of a shifting schedule, night becomes 
day and family ceases to exist. This is 
his coiTiment on sexuality: "Let's not talk 
about it; it's complete misery because 
one is pooped. I talked to fellow work- 
ers, they said working 48 hours a week 
in 3/8 [meaning their work schedule 
changes from day shift to swing to 
graveyard with no control] they can't get 
it up or else 'like dogs when you can 



neighborhood workshops where people 
share mechanical knowledge, spare 
parts are available for decades, instruc- 
tions are clearly written and sketched. 
People take pride in saving their cuisin- 
art from certain death, and avoiding 
pollution of the landscape and waste of 
natural resources, by changing its rotor 
belt and ensuring another 7 years of 
faultless operation. 

The same can be said of clothing, and 
the manufacture of more complex pro- 
ducts such as electronic gizmos, motor- 
cycles, etc. Standardization of tools and 
design, simplicity of involvement of the 
individual (You want a TV? Build it! 
Help do the programming, too!), and 
participation in neighborhood projects 
are all possibilities. He also suggests 
mechanization of the processes that 
make the individual parts, suggesting 
robotization of the most painful jobs: 
"Thus we would be able to eliminate the 
majority of assembly line work . . 



which constitutes one of the most alien- 
ating parts of the industrial system." 

There is no doubt that economics is a 
complex subject few of us are ready and 
able to tackle. Nor is economics the sole 
element: "Alter all, it is evident that the 
principal obstacle to reduced work hours 
is mostly political. Of what use is all the 
reasoning in the world if you lack the 
desire for a different life and the will to 
fight for it?" 

Sadly, most people seem trapped in 
the belief that nothing can change 
because a) it has always been that way; 
b) they are powerless individually; c) 
they need their cars to go to work and 
their VCRs to unwind from a tough job. 
Yet rare are those individuals that do 
not despise and vilify their jobs. The 
workaholics of our society are mosdy 
self-serving entrepreneurs, madmen 
with no life outside of work and who 
demand long hours from their employ- 
ees. L.V. has a four pronged attack to 
achieve the reduction of work: "1) 
reduce production; 2) augment produc- 
tivity; 3) transform a part of 'tied work' 
into 'free work'; 4) augment the number 
of people engaged in 'tied' work." 

L..\ . knows it is heresy to ask for a 
reduction of production. Most of us 
believe the wealth of our countries 
depends on it. Let's watch the switch of 
military production in the U.S. in the 
1990s. It is a prime example of overpro- 
duction to no particular end. Deemed 
essential to national security — read in- 
stitutional survival — by the military, its 
continuation is rendered unworkable by 
economic realities. 

L.V. propo.ses that the reduction of 
production be accomplished in three 
ways: a) redistributing revenues; b) 
diminishing waste; c) increasing the 
lifespan of products. 

He makes a detailed economic study 
based on published documents used by 
the very economists employed by the 
French government to support its claim 




Processed World Itl'i 



Page 45 




to political relevancy. His conclusion is 
that French production can be divided 
by a factor of 1.7 (;i return to 1965 
levels) without altering the standard of 
living. 

He proposes three ways of augmenting 
productivity. First, use automation to 
the max. The history of the Industrial 
Age is that of mechanization and in- 
creased productive capacity. Second, 
maximize the time freed by the use of 
machines. He cites studies made in 
several countries that show that each 
hour of reduction in worktime boosts 
productivity by 5%. This is not the 
same thing as maximizing mechaniza- 
tion. As the docker puts it: "What seems 
important is to not empty schedule 
reduction from its context of struggle. If 
the reduction of worktime is not ob- 
tained without a struggle that prefigures 
a society of the future that we want, it's 
empty, empty as a balloon." 

Third, everyone who wants to work 
will be able to. Everyone has something 
to share. With a "required" workday of 2 
hours, handicapped people, students, 
mothers, older people and all the vari- 
ous groups that societies are made of 
would have no trouble contributing fully 
to both "tied" and free work. It also 
means a reassessment of the meanings 
of work and creativity, usefulness and 
ethics. 

So a partial answer is mechanization 
and guaranteed pay for unemployed 
human labor. "We fought for mechani- 
zation to avoid hand labor. It was hard 
because the union always proposed 
raises or a reduction of the tonnage 
handled daily to earn full pay. There 
were many of us saying: 'The beef is not 
with raises, it's with automation." 

The answer of the unions to this 
demand for automation is to bemoan the 
loss of employment. Here is the repartee 
of the dockers of St. Nazaire: "We told 
them: 'If today, there are 20 of us 
working on a boat, they must pay 20; 
and if 2 are enough, so much the better, 



we don't care — they still have to pay 
20.'. . ." In the case of a boat full of 
toxics, the end result is that if you fight 
successfully through the unions — who 
get a middleman's cut out of it — you get 
just as poisoned as before but with a 
danger duty pay. Hope your widow 
likes it. 

To return to the analysis of L.V.: 
"When you look closely at all the 
numbers which I cited, you sometimes 
get the feeling that with a bit of good 
sense and good will, what appears 
insane today could be brought back to 
reason. But, to repaint our world in the 
colors of Utopia, I had to eliminate 
profit, which is its engine, and centralist 
authoritarianism, which defends it. I 
was able, for this demonstration, to use 
the magic of thought to transport myself 
(prudently) to 'another' world. One that 
thought alone isn't enough to create. 

"Capitalism is truly here, ready to 
defend itself. The absurdities and injus- 
tices we recognize are not the result of 
mistakes or bungling: they are necessary 
to its survival." 

"And Now? ... " closes the book, 
with a vision of a 21 hour work week 
with a 30% hike in pay as a concrete 
demand for the present. Consumer 
boycotts work up to a certain extent: 
"Subjected to a strong enough pressure, 
the dominant class would give way on 
demands which eat up its profits but 
don't really threaten its survival in the 
short run. In themselves these demands 
are acceptable by the system and can be 
called reformist. 

"What can be revolutionary, less easy to 
recuperate is the possible use of free 
time. "More of us could take advantage 
of this time, not to feed the leisure 
industry but to take charge of ourselves 
outside the mercantile structure. . ." 

"Locksmith," for example, is interest- 
ed by collectivity, the neighborhood: 
"Then for 10 years I was a member of 
the popular family movement. It was a 
workers' organization wishing to ac- 



complish for working class families, 
workers outside of work, and consum- 
ers, what the unions had accomplished 
in the work environment: to take your 
own destiny in hand. It was a fascinat- 
ing life, we did great stuff. For example, 
cultivation in common. There were 10 
of us, we talked of this communal truck 
garden project, called a meeting. Per- 
haps a 150 people showed up. We talked 
about our plans: to get the right to 
cultivate certain lands through city hall 
and then take charge ourselves, work- 
ers, together, to cultivate them, turn 
over the dirt, plant and harvest. They 
were workers, most of them had never 
done this. At the meeting, people asked 
'Who will do this and this?' 'Well, it's 
you, it's all of us together.' Well, then 
people said 'but it's crazy.' After an 
entire afternoon of discussion a few 
accepted." 

They got 52 acres and allotted them 
to the neighborhoods closest to the 
scattered tracts and organized work 
parties to take care of the tasks. The 
success of the project was helped by the 
times: it was WW II, food was scarce, 
unemployment was high, commerce 
was disrupted. Yet "Locksmith" ran into 
the problem of having to motivate 
people, a task which we know to be 
difficult at Processed World. 

"But what's really terrible in work 
organization is: why don't people think 
anymore? Why don't they take respon- 
sibilities anymore? Because everything 
is predigested, even the simplest things. 
Very often workers know more than 
managers, still they don't have the right 
[to express their opinion,] there is no 
place where they can express their 
intelligence, they are used to having no 
responsibility. It's frightening to see how 
work organization doesn't take account 
of people and their intelligence. So 
intelligence not used to being employed 
becomes lazy. There are people who end 
up not taking interest in anything 
because their intelligence is never called 
upon." 

L.V. sounds an appropriate note on 
which to end this: "This free time is also 
the time to simply take a breath, to live 
and dream, to find oneself, to return to 
the source of what makes us desire a 
different tomorrow. Technical argu- 
mentation is there to prove it: Hope isn't 
crazy; the dream is reasonable. Let 
loose the imagination, let us realize 
Utopia!" 

— Reviewed/Translated by Frog 

The address of Adret (1977) is: Adret, 
11 route Neuve, Gometz-le-Chatel, 
91400, France 



Page 46 



Processed World #25 



Six Kinds 




It is not without precedent that we reprint fiction (e.g. 
"Kareendi's Story"). In this instance, we present an excerpt 
from the just published final installment of John Shirley's A 
Song Called Youth trilogy (Warner/Questar). What is unusual is 
that in this case we do so with the author's permission, nay: 
encouragement. 

In "Eclipse," the start of the trilogy, Europe has been 
devastated by a NATO-Soviet war triggered by the KGB 
hardliners after a Central Committee coup ends the Glasnost 
era. To maintain security NATO has brought in a private 
security firm. The Second Alliance, to police its turf. The SA is 
in fact part of an extreme right-wing plot led by a charismatic 
preacher, "Smiling" Rick Crandall. The cabal believes that 
Hitler lacked efficiency and stability: their plans are at least as 
cruel. 

In a raid on one of the concentration camps — designated 
"Processing Centers" — the New Resistance, a loose alliance of 
many disparate groups, finds prisoners: "Every one of them 
had been bound in the stuff, tied together, squeezed in so 
tightly there was barely room to move or breathe. Torrence 
recognized the hard but prehensile gray plastic as sparks shot 



from the clippers, severing it. Restrain-O-Lite, it was called. 
Used by British cops to hold large numbers of prisoners after a 
riot; the stuff absorbed static electricity and gave it off when 
you moved . . . about a fourth of them had died in the 
restraints; were hanging there, rotting. Some had rotted free, 
slipped to the floor. The others were starved, bruised, cold, 
bleeding from the shackle cuts, drained of dignity." 

At the end of the first book a rocker, Rickenharp, has taken 
the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Playing a wildly amplified 
guitar and singing rebellion, accompanied by the staccato of 
assault rifles and the basso percussion of mortar, he taunts the 
SA. They destroy the Arc, its environs, and its occupants, with 
ajaegemaut— an enormous swastika-like metal wheel. 

By the end of "Eclipse Penumbra" the score has been evened 
somewhat; the space colony at L5 has been taken by the 
techntcki — the workers, and the SA has suffered losses, 
especially in North America, but it still has the upper hand in 
Europe. In the third act, "Eclipse Corona," we meet 
Jerome-X, musician and video-hacker (a la "Captain Mid- 
night") as he prepares for a "show" in London. 



"Wc backstage, now. Gimme a kiss." 
She crushed him to her, and he gave in. 
She broke it off herself, looking him in 
the eye, almost nose to nose. "You know 
de protocols?" 

"I know the UNIX protocols. I know 
the systems call code to log on as a 
superuser. I know how to evoke the 
debug function. If they haven't changed 
the debug function." 

"Dey probable haven't, 'cause dey use 
a rented system. High security, but 
rented. If dhey have changed it, fuck 
'em, we'll log off and dey won't be able to 
trace it to an aug chip. I think de back 
door is still open on dis system — " 

"Where'd you gel it from?" 



"De anarchist underground. Plateau 
subsystem bulletin board." 

"Some of those Wolves'll give you fake 
codes just to get their rivals in trouble." 

"Dese ain't Plateau Wolves, these are 
Plateau Rads. About de only people I 
met on the Plateau I trust. Dey got a 
guy used to be a hacker for SAISC till he 
found out what dey were into. He knows 
de system's back gates." 

"The anarchist underground cooper- 
ates with the NR? You'd think they'd 
say fuck off. The NR wants to establish 
the old European republics. That's not 
very anarchist." 

"Anarchists hate de Fascists worse den 
de Social Democrats, worse eben den de 



Republicists. Dey scared, like ever'body 
else out in de cold, boy. ..." 
[later, out in the crowd . . . ] 
They ordered vodka martinis and sat 
hunched together between two groups of 
sweating, almost-naked men giggling 
over cocaine fizzes. Advertisements 
blinked up the cocktail straws; taped 
music groaned like a machine about to 
break down. On the walls, videopaint- 
ings recreating scenes from medieval 
paintings of the Crucifixion and Resur- 
rection flickered through sequence in 
doleful chiaroscuro; occasionally the 
images of Christ alternated with other 
figures, paintings by Paul Mavrides and 
other icons from the erstwhile post-acid 



Processed World #25 



Page 47 




House era; Timothy Leai y asc eii(iing Tlie left lobe hacking V(^3.t'S ttlC SCCFCt tO kCCDitlff 

into heaven, riding a lloppy disk like a London UNET: ll)#4r)47q:5;i9. F"*& 

flying saucer; William Burroughs and Superuser: WATSON. VOUf phOflC blllS dOWn*^ 

Laurie Anderson waltzing through a ,,,, , ,■ , , , . ■ ■ i ■ t^-^ ■'•^ — ~-_ 

, ., ,. 1 he lett lobe t)i Ins braui workmg / ^ ^^^^ 

concentration camp while starveling . ■ ■ • . ■ i -..a i / T' 4 r.^»^ 

. . , , o 1 wall tlie chip, which emitted a signal, / I /I It I? \Kr^-^ 

camp victims played Strauss on orches- ■ ,- ■ • ■ ri • i "'■-^iVi!, /l/IllDr' 

, r ^ '. Ill interlaced with a powerlul microcom- Tr i * ^'l\JI\r 

tral instruments; Kotzwiiikle shooting , . , , ^ , ■ ,•■ , I V/ A /^ A /-r«» '^*»i_/ 

. II I J 1- ■ I \Arii /-'i outer hidden among the micalike layers I r /I I . /\ I I /^ A t/^ . 

skull-shaped dice with Wilham Ciibson; ' . , . , •,■ m . . ■ V ^^lll)\JQl 

„ , _, , , , ^, , ■ ot chips in the midi ol Bones synthesiz- V ^^i\il ' 

Bob Black and the minimono star C-alais ' ^ . tt i i l /" — v^ * 

... o I TT 1 J u 1 t>r; erome-X seeing the Herald on the \ \ 

chained to Stephen Hawkiiigs wheel- , \;' . r ,-.t^ r i ■ • j' V / 

, . , , . IN V- T I hallucinatory LCD screen ol his minds ^— ^ 

chair; the American guru iJa rieejonn ' r-N. 

with an arm growing hoin his lorehead, ^ ' , , ttvti— t- h-n j^ i j ^ 

,.*.,* . London UNET, ID #, date, assumed O 

arm wrestling with an arm growing „ '^ 

r I r I J r I. ■ 1 /--' J II superuser name. ^ 

from the lorehead ol Rick Crandall; ' J^^ 

Robert Heinlein goose-stepping with , i i i ^Ji^^^^- 

. , ,,, ... , 1 T r. i> i' 1 Scanning, at ihe root, lor the branch ^-^r^ 

Adoll HiUer and Le Pen; Rukeiiharp ,, , ^^' , , 4^ ^ 

r „■ ■ , I I 1 I- 1 11 • 'J' die system he needed. §f Mm, 9 

falling into the rubble ol the collapsing <-■ ■ r o i » n t >* ' CL^ -r- 

f „ . , . ,, 11- Scanning lor; Second Alliance Inter- ^ -• W^ ^* 

Arc de Inomphe; Ivan Stang adding • w • •? « 

. . ^ 1 ' national Security 

twentieth-century paper money to the ,, in- o ■ 

,, , , , II C_-orporation: intelligence Security 

flames under the stake on which a , ,. ' 

T T-> iiD u" r-> 1 I I subdirectory . . . 

grinning .R. Bob Dobbs is being ,,, , . ,- , ,. ,, ■ , 

, , ,■ T^ • 1 n • Watching Ironi the audience, Patrick 

burned alive; David Bowie eaten canni- ,, , , i / , . i ■ 

, ■■ . ,, I , 111- Barrabas remarked (and was unheard in 

bahstically by a demonic horde ol , , , , i , v i_ j r 

^' ' i> 1 II the blare) that erome-X had a lunny, ^^ y. 

twentv-lirst century pop stars; Buddha . ' . . ^ ,, , / ^^ / 

,■ , x^ n I II c ontortionistic way ol dancing as he 

making love to Mrs. Bester, the I'resi- ... i i i • l i i. . ,i .u . . n 

, f I IT ■ >Q. . . sang. His eyes squeezed shut, his hands His rappoi t with the aug chip essentially 

clcnt oi tnc united ot3.tes. ... ■ i i ■ ^' i i .. i i .. 

. , , , 1111 waving as il over typewriter keyboards. creating a mental data-glove, a data- 

And back to the dead but numinous . ^ , . , ,, ■ . „ , , ,1 . .11 1 ■ a 
, , p , , r>< II 1 ■ • • Not playing the air guitar, but glove that materialized only in the 
body ol the scourged Christ, his head in 111 1 ^ • . 1 r^ " i 1 i r 
.. ^ .. , , p, typing on the air keyboard. .. . virtual reality holography ol con- 
Mary Magdalene s lap. ... , 1 . ■ 

, , , , , . , erome was typing the commands sciousness. 

and now the show begins .. . •' , , . , r^ 11 at 

i, . , * , ,1 out. Using a technique Bettina had Asjerome sang. 

He was into the system, erome lelt it 1 i- ■ 1 1 

before he saw it. He was ;. '^"'-^''^ '^''" '" '"'P'^---^t nu^re complex u,,/,,,,, of the Arctic 

The computing work was done by the """'",^"ds; seeing through his aug chip Su months into the mght 

left brain - and the camouflage by the Ij^ '"^^''" ^^^"^. ^° ^ P"^"^'''"' "^^'" '■-"^^- Darkness of the eclipse 

right brain. The right brain was sing- ^J}^^^ physically on a mental key- forgetting oj all light 

ing. Singing the chorus to "Six Kinds of " ' ' i- r ii- in- j Six kinds of darkness 

„ , „ 1 1 1 1 r I ■ ihe chip ted him tactile illusions and V;»- 1 mnnnt tpll — 

Darkness, while the other part of his 1 1 • 1 , ■ oix 1 cannot leu 

. , 1,11 1 T-i I read out his responses through its con- 
mind worked with the c hii). ihe right . , . ' , ,. ° , . ,,. .... , , , , , 
, , . . tact with parietal lobe, reading the input rinding his way through the darkness 
lobe singing , , . • 1 ,■ r 1 -r- ■ • 

° ° Iroin the proprioceptive sensors — sen- in the lorest of data. Taking cuttings. 

Six kind of darkness, spilling down sory nerve terminals — in the muscles. Taking information. Planting some- 

overme and kinesthetic sensors — tactile nerves thing of his c:)wn . . . 

Six kinds of darkness, sticky with — in the fingers: Jerome's movements 

energy— translated into cybernetic commands. — John Shirley 

DON'T GET CAUGHT WITH NOTHING DECENT 
;s:;rrrrsc:r«2r.=2 TO READ IN YOUR BATHROOM! 

Parry treated in a similar fashion. —G.C.B. 

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